ESRA Mallorca

English-Speaking Residents′ Association - Mallorca

Oct 31, 2020

Bird of the Month - March 2015

The Crossbill

Crossbills are one of those birds that are all around us the whole time but they are rarely seen, which is a pity because in the breeding season the male is a lovely brick red and the female is a greenish-yellow. This is partly because they spend most of their time high up in the trees and only rarely do they perch on the ground.

Over the millennia their bill has become crossed over as the name implies. This is because of their diet; they feed exclusively on pine seeds which they extract from the cones. One of the problems of this diet is that the birds have to drink very often so if you provide water in your garden in a sheltered place and near to pine trees you may well get a surprise visitor in the shape of one of these fascinating birds.

There will be many other species that will visit too because birds not only need to drink but they must keep their plumage in top condition for survival; so if you can provide water then it is bound to produce results with many interesting species looking in and, who knows, there may be a surprise or two as well. As much of Mallorca is covered in Pine trees you are never far away from a Crossbill. They can be detected by their call, a metallic "chip, chip". It can be heard all over the Island and at any time of the year.

Crossbills are not migrants and therefore stay here for the whole of the year. It is still a challenge to see one ‘though. I remember seeing my first one in Mallorca in 1989, a splendid male in the afternoon sun, perched on a TV aerial. I also hear them most days, so keep a lookout for them or ,better still, put out a shallowdish of water and see what happens!


Michael Montier
Photo by kind permission of Juanjo Bázan

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