Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra). A chunky finch with a large head and bill which is crossed over at the tips. Most often encountered in noisy family groups or larger flocks, and usually flying close to treetop height it is easier to hear them than to see them. It feeds acrobatically, fluttering from cone to cone extracting seeds with amazing dexterity. Adult males are a distinctive brick-red and females greenish-brown.
The Latin name Loxia is derived from the Greek Loxos, meaning 'crosswise' which describes the beak perfectly.
They are the most specialised of the finches, feeding almost entirely on seeds from mature conifers. When the crop fails in one area, the birds are compelled to travel, sometimes huge distances in search of new forests. This means that it is widespread and numerous in some years and less so in others. It is an irruptive species. They breed in sync with the pine crop and may breed in the middle of winter, the young are specially adapted to survive very cold weather that would quickly kill other small birds.