495. COMMON CROSSBILL.
Loxia curvirostra, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 299 (1766) ; Naum. iv. p. 356, Taf. 110 ; Audubon, B. Am. pl. 197 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 202 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 45 ; Hewitson, i. p. 212, pl. liv. figs. 2, 3 ; Newton, ii. p. 187 ; Dresser, iv. p. 127, pl. 203 ; Sharpe, Oat. B. Br, Mus. xii. p. 435 ; Saunders, p. 201 ; Lilford, iv. p. 75, pl. 37 ; Ridgway, p. 392.
Bec-croise, French ; Cruza-bico, Portug. ; Pico-tuerto, Span. ; Crociere, Ital. ; Kreuzschnabel, German ; Kruisbek, Dutch ; Mindre Korsnoeb, Dan. ; Grau-Korsnoeb, Norw. ; Mindre Korsnabb, Swed. ; Kapylintu, Ristinokka, Finn. ; Klest-yelovik, Russ.
Male ad. (Sweden). General colour dull red or brick-red, sometimes varied with yellow, the rump brighter ; wings and tail dark brown, mar¬gined or tinged with red ; middle of abdomen greyish white, tinged with red ; mandibles curved, crossing each other except in the nestling, dull brown, darker at the tip ; legs dark brown ; iris dark hazel. Culmen 0.75, wing 3.9, tail 2.6, tarsus 0.65 inch. In the, female the red is replaced by greenish yellow.
Hab. The northern portion of the Old and New Worlds, ranging south through Europe to N. Africa ; Asia, east to Japan and south to the Himalayas and China ; America south to Mexico. In Scotland it is resident. It is more a wanderer than a migrant and nests nearly throughout its range, in the south in elevated parts of the mountains. In its habits it is very parrot-like, climbing about the conifer-trees, often with the head downwards using both feet and bill in climbing. It feeds on seeds of conifers and to some extent on insects and their larvae, and is said to be useful in destroying large numbers of the noxious caterpillars which are so destructive to forest-trees. When feeding it is usually silent or utters a low, rather melodious call-note, which in the spring is modulated into a sort of song, simple but musical. Nidification commences early, eggs being often found early in March, or even, before that. The nest is usually placed in the fork at the top of a fir-tree, or on the horizontal branches near the stem, and is constructed of twigs, moss, lichens, and grass, lined with wool, hair, and rootlets. The eggs usually 4 in number resemble those of the Greenfinch, and are pale bluish white marked, chiefly at the larger end, with small red and purple spots and dashes, and measure about 0,78 by 0.61.
In size, coloration, and size of bill, the Crossbill varies considerably, and has consequently been separated into many species and subspecies, but I quite agree with Dr. Sharpe that after examining a large series, it is impossible to recognise these.
Our European bird has been split up into three species or sub¬species, viz., L. curvirostra, inhabiting N. Europe, L. curvirostra balearica (Homeyer, J. f. O., 1862, p. 256) from the Balearic Isles, and L. c. poliogyna (Whitaker, Ibis 1898, p. 625) from Tunis. The Himalayan bird has been named L. himalayana Hodgs., the Chinese L. albiventris Swinhoe, the Japanese L. japonica (Ridg.), and Mr. Ridgway separates the American bird from that found in Europe and recognises three forms, L.c. minor (Brehm) from N. America generally east of the Great Plains, L.c. stricklandi from the S. Western United States and the highlands of Mexico, and L.c. bendirei from the N. W. United States.
495. Loxia curvirostra
495. COMMON CROSSBILL.