Reddish Knob, VA 3/22/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I had seen Red Crossbills a few times prior to this trip, but had never gotten very good photos of this interesting species. Diane Lepkowski had posted a report and photos of them on Briery Branch Road on the way up to Reddish Knob yesterday, and Walt Childs and I made the trip there to see if we could re-locate them.

Red-Crossbills are an interesting species. Their bills are crossed so that they can pry open pine cones to get to the seeds, but they also need to ingest small bits of gravel to aid digestion. There is a four way intersection of gravel roads right on the Virginia/West Virginia border before turning up the road to get to the top of Reddish Knob. Red-billed Crossbills seem to favor this one location to get gravel.

We arrived there at 1:15 in the afternoon, and within a minute or so, two Red-Crossbills landed in a tree next to the road, then flew down to the gravel road, and were soon joined by a third bird.


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill

Two of the Red Crossbills had their top bills crossing over from right to left, and one of these two had a significantly longer bill.


Red Crossbills

The third Red Crossbill had its top bill crossing over from left to right. Its color was also a bit yellower than than the other two Red Crossbills.


Red Crossbill

These birds had to turn their heads to the side when picking up the bits of gravel.


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills

I took more than 500 photos of these three birds. They didn't seem to mind us at all, and were only about 10 feet away from us most of the time. Here are a few more of my favorite photos.


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbills


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill


Red Crossbill



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