Juvenile Red Crossbill

There are little chances that we would see a Red Crossbill in our woods here, simply for the fact that their preferred habitats is coniferous forests. With other words, it was a first sighting for us and we found the birds in the Slim Butte area, located in the grasslands between the Black Hills, South Dakota and Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. There were plenty of pine trees and we saw a female and a juvenile crossbill feeding on them. Their unique bill shape is perfect for getting the seeds out of the pine cones and make it easy to identify the bird. Red Crossbills show a great deal of variation in bill shape and voice and there is a debate over that this member of the finch family is composed of several different species.

The birds were on a feeding frenzy and in constant movement and the only way to keep up with them was to handhold the camera. Fill flash was used to overcome the harsh contrast and to show the colors.

Female feeding a juvenile