RED CROSSBILL(Loxia curvirostra) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Red Crossbill male is washed out red-orange with brown wings and tail. The female is yellowish. The large bill two curved mandibles are overlapping. Bill, legs and feet are grey. It measures measures about 15 cm (6 inches) long.
NAME: The Red Crossbill owes its name (both English and Latin) to  its bill shape.
HABITAT: Boreal coniferous forests.
DIET: Conifer seeds. Attracted to bird feeders.
NESTING: Food availability influences breeding frequency. Can breed any time of the year. Nest placed on conifer branch. Three or four light green-blue eggs are laid, incubated by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: Year-round resident in most of Canada up to the tree line and in the USA Rockies region. Winters in the remainder of the USA except the south.
Distribution map:
ON PEI: Breeds on Prince Edward Island but numbers can fluctuate  as it is an irruptive species (see below).
CONSERVATION: Listed as ‘endangered’ by COSEWIC (see reference below) due to its vulnerability to habitat loss, but as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN.
NOTES: This bird is part of the finch family. The feet are stronger than for other finches as they are used to pry apart cone scales to access the seeds. There are many subspecies, depending on the region and the type of cone seeds they feed on.
Irruptive Behavior: Some bird species have a diet linked to very specific animals or species. Examples are lemmings for the Snowy Owl, pine seeds for the Pine Grosbeak, spruce budworm for the Evening Grosbeak. This means that these birds will follow their food sources, sometimes ‘irrupting’ in some areas some years. Here’s an article explaining that behavior.
SIMILAR SPECIES: White-winged Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak
REFERENCES: (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas) (Montana Field Guide) (University of Michigan)

Red Crossbill - Dec. 15, 2012 - Joanne Dunphy
Red Crossbill, male – Dec. 15, 2012 – © Joanne Dunphy
Red Crossbill, female - Dec. 14, 2012 - Joanne Dunphy
Red Crossbill, female – Dec. 14, 2012 – © Joanne Dunphy