Loxia curvirostra


The Crossbill is a large finch of conifer woodlands; so-named for its bizarre cross-tipped bill, which it uses skilfully to prise out and eat the seeds from pine cones. The Crossbill feeds by flying from cone to cone, and can most often be seen in larges flocks near the treetops, although it regularly comes down to pools to drink. It is resident all year-round, but some years are 'irruption' years when it becomes widespread and numerous as it is joined by Continental birds looking for food and which may stay to breed. Crossbills nest in conifer trees, constructing small cups out of twigs and moss, and lining them with hair.

How to identify

Crossbills are difficult to spot as they spend most of their time at the top of pine trees. They have distinctive crossed bills and forked tails; males are brick-red, females olive-green with a yellow rump. Two similar species include the Parrot Crossbill which is slightly larger with a heavier bill, and the Scottish Crossbill which is endemic to Scots Pine woods in Scotland and has a slightly smaller bill.

Where to find it

Widespread in conifer forests.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for all kinds of birds from Crossbills to Goldcrests, Nuthatches to Whitethroats. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to raising awareness about birds.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Loxia curvirostra
Finches and Buntings
Length: 17cm Wingspan: 29cm Weight: 43g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status