I returned yesterday to try to improve on the photographs of the drinking Crossbills. I heard a nice comment recently saying that it's one thing to take lots of photographs but it's not as easy to finish up with good pictures, a very good comment if you think about it. You can decide if you think this is good photograph or in fact a good picture? For what it's worth, I love it. It is a male and yesterday I photographed not only males, but females and juveniles. This was all very, very interesting. Crossbills seemingly come in a variety of colours which makes them doubly interesting. Males, females and juveniles are all different and come in different shades of greens, yellows and reds. They are like designer finches! Another interesting fact is that their "crossed" beaks don't all cross the same way. The beak on the one above crosses left over right, in other words the top mandible crosses towards the right eye. How very interesting is this, is there a pattern to the direction of this crossing, do birds carry genes to dictate this crossing. This opens up some real scientific unknowns - or is it unknown - my question is this. Do all birds in the same family group have beaks that cross in the same way or is it purely random? Are birds genetically programed as "right" or "left" crossers. I have studied every bird that I have photographed over the last 48 hours, at least 12 different individuals of both sexes and all ages and on these, all cross left to right but if you look at the picture of a male taken previously then you can see that the beak crosses in the other direction. Fascinating!! I would love to know the answer to this question.
Here are more photographs from yesterday. For what i'ts worth, all cross to the right!
Above, a juvenile, crossing to the right!
Above, An adult male.
Above, a sub-adult male showing juvenile un-moulted feathers on the head which are yellow. When newly fledged crossbills undertake their first mount, regardless of sex they acquire greenish/yellow plumage, and it is not until next moult that males acquire redish plumage. This bird shows this really well and in addition the edges of the secondary feathers are retained and bleached to show as a wing bar.
Two different birds here, a female drinking and another male with hints of retained yellow plumage on the head but not such noticeable bleached edges to the secondaries. Got to love this species. Could be my new obsession!
Here's a pair of Crossbills photographed in 2015, both birds are lefties!