June 25th, 2013

Codd ‘captures’ crossbill

crossbill web dan coddIMG_3970South Fidalgo resident Dan Codd loves the Northwest … and he loves photographing wildlife. Attached is a shot he took of a Red Crossbill, with related information. Thanks, Dan! Red Crossbills are finches with highly specialized, crossed bills and long, pointed wings. Male Red Crossbills are brick-red with black wings and no white wing-bars. Females are greenish-yellow with black wings and no wing-bars. Juveniles are streaked brown. The bill size of Red Crossbills varies considerably and correlates with distinct habitat and food preferences as well as flight calls. Red Crossbills typically inhabit mature conifer forests, and the different types tend to specialize on preferred trees, including western hemlock, Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Sitka, and Engleman spruce. Red Crossbills are usually found in small flocks year round. They typically climb in mature conifers, using their bills to grab branches and cones. They will also occasionally land on deciduous trees and forage for aphids. Their bills are adapted for removing seeds from cones, and they start at the bottom of a cone and spiral upward, prying open each scale and removing the seeds with their tongues. The bills can cross in either direction, and the direction of the cross dictates the direction that the bird spirals up the cone. Each type has a distinct flight call, which is helpful in identification and may play a role in maintaining the isolation of each group.

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About Photographer Steve Berentson

A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.

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