Sunday, 17 November 2013

Redpolls, Crossbills and a Funny Feather....

Having now almost certainly started into winter, I am now back to catching wintering Redpolls, although far less than the last few years.  But at present of the 80 birds caught, exactly 10% have been Common Redpolls (one of pictured below).  Goldcrest numbers also seem to have been very low this autumn.


Although most of the bird attention on Leith Hill has been focused on people trying to hunt down the female Two-barred Crossbill that has now been present since about late July, today saw our first catch of Common Crossbill since the end of May 2012.  The ten birds involved were two adult female, four 1st year females, three 1st year males and a juvenile male.  The latter was quite a surprise to me, still retaining some of its juvenile body feathers, in that I didn't think that Crossbills bred this late in the year and should be only now just starting to think about setting up territories to breed.  (A few pictures below.)

Note that the bill of this bird crosses top to the right whereas the bird below crosses top to the left.  I will try to keep track with future catches as to how many are one way or the other... which will be the more common?

Have also been meaning to post this photo of a Chiffchaff that I caught a few weeks ago that had a large feather growing out of the inside wall of its eyelid....  Never seen this before, but there is always something new to learn and discover.....


  1. Wow, I never realised Crossbills were so brightly coloured, or that their bills can cross in either direction-fascinating! The Chiffchaff with the strange feather is very interesting too, that's the kind of thing you'd probably only spot with the bird in the hand. I hope it's not uncomfortable for the bird to have that feather there!

  2. Hi Esther, yes Crossbills are really fascinating and don't follow the same rules as other birds! I wouldn't think that the Chiffchaff would be helped at all by this feather at all but it didn't seem to be having any negative effects. There was no sign of irritation and the bird seemed to fly and hunt ok, but hopefully another ringer will catch it elsewhere and we will know that it has survived ok.