Saturday, July 13, 2013

Red Crossbills

Dave Wenning has a nice write up on a favorite bird red-crossbills-of-gibralter-road.

My first encounter with red crossbills was on a landslide site on Orcas Island. The landslide was a bedrock failure within a tectonic shear zone. Most of the rock on the slope was very competent and very hard, but a sliver of the shear zone had been highly altered to clay even though it retained all the features of rock. The clay was impermeable and hence, created a perched water zone on the steep slope that was in part why the slope was failing, but was also a spot of spring water flow in an otherwise dry area. As such it was and still is a great bird location as forest birds would come visit the drips of water. It was at this location I saw my first red crossbill. A spectacular brilliant red with a crazy, but effective, beak. The site drew lots of other birds that are not often seen, but the red crossbill was the most exciting. I have visited the site since just to watch various birds normally heard in the forest but not seen.

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