Honk for Crossbills

Photo: Verena Shaw

In Golden this winter you may have noticed, especially up at the ski hill, that there are huge numbers of birds up high in coniferous trees, singing and calling. They are mostly White-winged and Red Crossbills as well as Pine Siskins, and some Pine Grosbeaks. Crossbills are an interesting bird in that they can nest at any time of the year, providing they have enough food, and their bills are unique in that they are crossed, which allows them to pry open tightly closed cones to take out the seeds that they eat. They show up where there are lots of cones and this winter we are lucky to have so many here due to the huge numbers of cones the trees here have.

Unfortunately, crossbills are often on the road as well where they eat gravel and salt. Too many get hit by vehicles because they have not evolved to recognize how fast vehicles approach. An easy solution is to honk if you see any on the road. This causes them to fly away safely. Please spread the word to help keep these beautiful birds safe this winter.