Tuesday, February 01, 2011


As I said yesterday, I will have some posts up soon about the Superbowl of Birding and the rest of my weekend with the Bloggerhead Kingbirds. But first, I want to write about some follow-up birding. Yesterday, I went down to Long Branch with my mother and sister to look for crossbills at Seven Presidents Park. Both crossbill species have been reported there almost daily since shortly after New Year's. When we arrived, we found a few other birders present already, some walking around and others driving back and forth across the park. As we walked around looking for the crossbills, we saw some other birds, including three Horned Larks that were running around the parking lot.

A few others located two Red Crossbills in a pine tree on the northwest corner of the largest parking lot. The crossbills were feeding on the tree's abundant cone crop. One appeared to be an adult male and the other an immature male. They moved slowly around the tree and tended to stay in one spot to pick seeds out of a single cone or group of cones. This made it easy to find them with the camera, though proper focus was still tricky. I heard one give its flight call, but I am not sure I could match it to a known call type.

The White-winged Crossbills were harder to find, even though there were more of them present in the park. It took a few walks back and forth across the park, plus a snack break, for us to find them near the maintenance garage. A flock of about a dozen were foraging actively, flitting around from branch to branch and even chasing each other. Even though they were moving faster than the Red Crossbills did, photographing them was still easy because it took them some effort to open a cone and pry out a seed. The trees where the White-winged Crossbills foraged were full of other birds as well. They included some Red-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, and at least one Red Crossbill.

The Red Crossbill was a life bird for me, and both crossbills were life birds for my sister and mother.

If you can get to Long Branch, it is definitely worth a trip to Seven Presidents Park to see these crossbills. The birds are pretty easy to find, and they are very cooperative for watching and photography.