Visitors from the Boreal Forest

White-winged Crossbill Winter Sighting on Cape Cod

I promise to get back to my Florida posts very soon but first I wanted to tell you about some winter visitors….

white-winged crossbill

I was driving down my street yesterday when I saw a bunch of birds on a couple of lawns.  From a distance I thought they were cowbirds and starlings which I have been seeing a lot lately foraging on the ground in medium flocks but when I got closer I saw that about half of them were red and some were yellowish.  I turned my car around to try and get some pictures.  My neighbors must think I’m a little strange!

white-winged crossbill2

I wasn’t able to get great pictures.  It seems like I have trouble getting sharp pictures of birds on the ground (not sure why).  Maybe it is because my camera has trouble finding the bird to focus on or maybe it is because the birds don’t hold as still as they do when they are perched on branches.

Anyway I got a few pictures and I couldn’t wait to get home and try and identify them.

How to Identify Birds

All About Birds is a great place to start.  You can look up birds by shape plus they have a great “similar species” feature on most bird profiles.  At first I looked up the Scarlet Tanager because it is also red black wings but no luck.  Then I looked at my pictures more closely and thought my birds looked a bit like Golden Finches with the black and white wing.  I searched finches and click on House Finch because it also has some red.  Under similar species I clicked on the Pine Grosbeak (getting closer), and then there it was under similar species again, the White-winged Crossbill!  The red ones are the males of course.

Identifying birds it fun!

These birds have a very interesting beak adaptation for harvesting seeds from pine cones.  Check out this video…

Turns out they are likely visiting from the Boreal Forest, a large ring of forest mostly above the 50th parallel.  Much of this vast pine forest is in Canada and came to be when the glaciers retreated after the last ice age.

Watch this interesting video about it…

Have you noticed any winter visitors?  Please share!

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This post is linked up here…


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. They’re so cute! So fluffy! We’ve had hummingbirds here… Weird? My mother loves it when they visit. The feeder is right outside the kitchen window…I’ve been meaning to make a post with their photos.. they’re so adorable!

    Thanks for linking up, Ann!
    Larissa Tenorio recently posted..TidBit Thursday.My Profile

    • Thanks Larissa and yes, definitely add your hummingbirds to a post! I am fascinated by hummingbirds!

    • Focusing manually would probably help. I don’t have a DSLR but if you have good luck experimenting you will have to let me know!

    • I wonder if they will! I only saw them that one day. Strange! And there were so many of them.

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