MRBO Joins the Backyard Rare Bird Club!

White-winged Crossbill
photo by Erik Ost

On Thanksgiving morning, while admiring the plentiful Purple Finches, Paige spotted a bird that looked a bit off. The bird turned out to be a male White-winged Crossbill! Many of you know that this year has been quite the irruption year for northern species. The new office backyard has had a few of these species present such as Red-breasted Nuthatches and Purple Finches, but this White-winged Crossbill takes the cake. The White-winged Crossbill has been present each day and is continuing to come the yard to eat sunflower seeds below the feeders. Erik and Paige have been diligently monitoring the behavior of this neat bird and here is what they and other birders who have come to view this guy have learned.

He likes to land in the trees above the feeders and then fly down below the feeders to munch of sunflower seed for minutes at a time. He has never landed on our actual feeders, which is interesting. What’s even more interesting is that out of all the birds that visit our feeders, this guy is the least skittish and seems to be comfortable with the presence of enthusiastic birders only meters away from him! After he pigs out, he’ll sometimes fly next door to our friend and board members’ yard and drink from a reservoir of water. Occasionally, he will fly up into the silver maples and nip at the buds. Chris Barrigar has observed him nibbling on sprouts from other trees as well. This finch-sized bird will then disappear for 30 minutes or so and then suddenly reappear in the trees above the feeders and repeat the cycle. He tends to call it a day around 4pm and so far, has continued to show up each morning around 7:15am.

If you haven’t come to check out this bird, other birders and Erik can’t over-hype how intimate of a view you’ll have! What a treat it has been to share this rare bird with our supportive birding community. Our address is 406 Main Street in Arrow Rock if you would like to try and see this guy. Please contact Erik at erik.ost@mrbo.org if you’d like an update on if the bird has been present before you make the trip out here. While you’re here, check out the rest of Arrow Rock, if you haven’t already, and maybe try looking for the Winter Wren that likes to hang out by the Big Spring.

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