Banded Cassia Crossbills. If the scientists’ suspicions prove out, the fire could be a death knell for this rare crossbill and its unique relationship with the islands of lodgepole they call home. If you have photographs of crossbills in the South Hills that show the bands on their legs, and you can see both legs and their bill in the photograph, please send high resolution copies to Craig Benkman [cbenkman [at] uwyo.edu] with information on the date and location. 3- In the Albion Mountains, the lodgepole pine in and around Thompson Flat Campground is an excellent location, especially when there are leaks in the water faucets that provide a water source for the crossbills. Cassia Crossbill's excitement call rises and then falls in pitch unlike Red Crossbill type 5, which doesn't rise and fall as much and unlike Red Crossbill type 2, which starts lower in pitch and then rises and falls. Moreover, many of the above-ground and open-cup nesting song birds are about twice as abundant as in the lodgepole pine forests in the Rocky Mountains, presumably in part because of the absence of red squirrels as nest predators. Playing these calls to try to get a response from the Crossbills does not work, you just have to listen for them. Listen to more sounds of this species from the ML archive. Both of these call types average smaller than the Cassia Crossbill (bill depths average 0.3 and 0.6 mm less than in the Cassia Crossbill, respectively), but, because of extensive size overlap and no consistent plumage differences, one needs to rely on vocalizations. Looking up, you see a dozen small birds clambering about over the pine cones, acting like tiny parrots. However, most of the Cassias there were banded, making identification easy for those who don't like to rely on calls alone. Reference: Condor 111:169-176. We’ll spend at least one full day in the heart of the Cassia Crossbill’s range in the South Hills, and we have an excellent chance of both seeing this species and hearing its distinctive calls. Cassia Crossbill_flight_call_64374391. Walking into a pine grove, you hear soft, unfamiliar calls overhead. Cassia Crossbills give a short kip in flight that serves to keep the group together. Thank you. Some are red, some are dull yellow-green. Recently, a more reliable location has been in the lodgepole pine off the dirt road to Pike Mountain. 2- Bostetter Campground and Father and Sons Campground are better but less accessible than those at the south end of Rock Creek. Take this road and then take the first left (only about ~150 meters from G3) and drive ~150 meters further to where the pine forest starts. Essentially a call type 2 bird “switched teams”—it transitioned into a Cassia Crossbill just by changing its behavior. This coevolutionary arms race between crossbills and pine in the South Hills and Albions has ultimately favored the evolution of the Cassia Crossbill. The small area of lodgepole pine in the South Hills and Albions limits the distribution of the Cassia Crossbill to about 70 km2 of forest. The tail is notched. Finches, Euphonias, and Allies(Order: Passeriformes, Family:Fringillidae). Even with relatively high densities, they number only about 6,000 individuals. The lodgepole pine in both campgrounds and in between are excellent areas to see Cassia Crossbills. The Red Crossbill call types are distinguished by their vocalizations, especially their contact calls, and by their bill and body sizes and associated conifer preferences, and thus areas where they most commonly reside. Crossbills are seed predators, so trees that deter foraging crossbills have a reproductive advantage. The thicker cone scales in turn explain why the Cassia Crossbill has evolved a bill that averages about 0.6 mm deeper than that of Type 5, which specializes on lodgepole pine where red squirrels are present. https://idahobirds.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Cassia-Crossbill-Contact-Call.wav, https://idahobirds.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Type-2-Crossbill-Contact-Call.wav, https://idahobirds.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Type-5-Crossbill-Contact-Call.wav, Cassia Crossbills: of pinecones and squirrels, https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bird-evolving-seriously-bizarre-way/, http://www.coursesource.org/courses/coevolution-or-not-crossbills-squirrels-and-pinecones. Cassia Crossbill Showing 1-2 of 2 messages. Swift bounding flight, alternates rapid wing beats with wings pulled briefly to sides. The best way to separate them is to look at the shape of the call on a spectrogram. Call type is the diagnostic feature of these crossbills. Day 4 - Sat Transfer to Idaho for Cassia Crossbill Saturday morning is a backup for the Snowcock if for some reason we were unable to track down the target bird on Friday. Flight call described as a low pitched very dry dip-dip-dip or dyip-dyip-dyip; very distinctive. Crossbills often forage on the serotinous lodgepole pine cones on fallen branches by the edge of the forest that open in summer when in direct sunlight. Cassia's call (Type 9) is a bit lower in pitch and has a harsher quality to it. Citation: Benkman, 2009. Crossbills avoid foraging on cones having thicker scales at the distal end of the cone where most of the seeds are located (crossbills have greater difficulty spreading apart thicker scales to expose the underlying seeds). Along with Cassia Crossbills there are two other call types that occur regularly in summer in the South Hills, Type 2 (generally ponderosa pine associated) and Type 5 (Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine associated outside of the South Hills and Albions). If needed our morning will follow the same itinerary as Friday, before packing up and traveling northeast to Idaho, where we'll make an evening attempt at tracking down Cassia Crossbill. A bird of call type 2 copied the Cassia Crossbill call type of its mate! Most crossbills are nomadic and therefore cannot be found reliably in any single area. Cassia Crossbill: Medium finch with red-orange or olive body, brighter on rump and crown, gray-brown wings and tail. Each Cassia Crossbill call consists of an upside-down U followed by a slash. The Cassia Crossbill, a finch with a crisscrossed bill, is closely related to the widespread Red Crossbill and was recognized as a full species in 2017. South Hills Crossbill rarely interbreeds with other call types that move into the South Hills of Idaho yearly, and can be considered to represent a distinct species. Order: Passeriformes Family: Fringillidae Genus: Loxia. Resighting information is valuable for studies on survivorship of these birds. Like many birds, crossbills are most active in the morning, relatively quiet by late morning, and then more active in the mid to late afternoon and then often quiet in the evening when other birds are active.