Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
LOXIA LEUCOPTERA, Gmel.
PLATE CCI.--MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.
I found this species quite common on the islands near the entrance of the
Bay of Fundy, which I visited early in May 1833. They were then journeying
northwards, although many pass the whole year in the northern parts of the State
of Maine, and the British provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where,
however, they seem to have been overlooked, or confounded with our Common
American Crossbill. Those which I met with on the islands mentioned above were
observed on their margins, some having alighted on the bare rocks, and all those
which were alarmed immediately took to wing, rose to a moderate height, and flew
directly eastward. On my passage across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Labrador,
in the same month, about a dozen White-winged Crossbills, and as many Mealy
Redpolls, one day alighted on the top-yards of the Ripley; but before we could
bring our guns from below, they all left us, and flew ahead of the vessel, as if
intent on pointing out to us the place to which we were bound. On the 30th of
June, a beautiful male was shot, on a bunch of grass growing out of the fissure
of a rock, on a small island a few miles from the coast of Labrador; and on the
23d of July, my young friend Dr. GEORGE SHATTUCK, procured a fine adult female
on the Murre Islands, whilst she was feeding among the scanty herbage.
Within the limits of the United States, I have obtained some during winter
along the hilly shores of the Schuylkill river in Pennsylvania; also in New
Jersey, and in one instance in Maryland, a few miles from Baltimore, beyond
which southward I have never met with this species, nor have I heard of any
having been seen there. According to Mr. TOWNSEND, who resided about four years
on the Columbia river, none are met with in that region. As it appears that
individuals accidentally visit Europe, I am led to think that the true summer
haunts of this species are as yet not better known than those of the Bohemian
Chatterer and Common Crossbill. The latter has been shot in winter by my son
JOHN WOODHOUSE, within a few miles of Charleston in South Carolina, where
several were seen, and the specimen he procured there is now in the collection
of my friend the Reverend JOHN BACHMAN.
The southward migration of this Crossbill, as well as of the other, is
extremely irregular. Being evidently hardy birds, they appear to prefer
northern to temperate climates, and to shift their station only during the most
severe cold. The comparatively small number that spend the year in Maine and
the British Provinces adjoining, may be forced to do so by wounds or other
accidents, as in general I have found them moving toward the north as soon as
the chill blasts of winter were tempered by the warmer rays of the vernal sun.
The habits of the White-winged Crossbill are in general similar to those of
our common species. Its flight is well sustained and undulated; it is easily
approached, is fond of saline substances, uses its bill and feet in the manner
of Parrots, and procures its food from the cones of pines. Its song is at times
mellow and agreeable, and in captivity it becomes gentle and familiar.
Mr. HUTCHINS says that this species reaches Hudson's Bay in the month of
March, and breeds in May, forming a nest of grass, mud, and feathers, about
midway up pine trees, and laying five white eggs, marked with yellowish spots.
The young are abroad in the end of June, and the species remains in that country
until the latter part of November. Dr. RICHARDSON states that it "inhabits the
dense white spruce forests of the Fur Countries, feeding principally on the
seeds of cones. It ranges through the whole breadth of the continent, and
probably up to the sixty-eighth parallel, where the woods terminate, though it
was not observed by us higher than the sixty-second. It is mostly seen on the
upper branches of the trees, and, when wounded, clings so fast, that it will
remain suspended after death. In September it collects in small flocks, which
fly from tree to tree, making a chattering noise; and in the depth of winter it
retires from the coast to the thick woods of the interior."
Male, 6 1/2, 10 5/8. Female, 6 1/4, 10.
During winter, as far south as Maryland. Not uncommon in New Jersey and
Pennsylvania, where a few breed. Common in Maine, Nova Scotia, Labrador, and
the Fur Countries. Migratory.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, Loxia leucoptera, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. iv. p. 48.
LOXIA LEUCOPTERA, Bonap. Syn., p. 117.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, Loxia leucoptera, Bonap. Amer. Orn., vol. ii. p.
LOXIA LEUCOPTERA, White-winged Crossbill, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer.,vol. ii. p. 263.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, Loxia leucoptera, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 540.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, Loxia leucoptera, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv.p. 467.
Bill rather long, stout at the base, where it is higher than broad,
extremely compressed toward the end, the mandibles towards their extremity
deflected to opposite sides, so as to cross each other. Upper mandible with the
dorsal line convex and deflected, the sides slightly convex, the edges sharp,
and towards the end united, as in Rhynchops nigra, the tip excessively
compressed, decurved, and extending far beyond that of the other. Lower
mandible with its angle very short and broad, the dorsal outline ascending and
convex, the edges sharp, inflected, and approximated at the tip, which is
extremely acute. Nostrils small, basal, round, covered by short bristly
Head large, broadly ovate; eyes small; neck short; body compact. Feet
rather short, strong; tarsus short, compressed, with seven anterior scutella,
and two posterior plates meeting so as to form a thin edge; toes of moderate
size, the outer united at the base, the first strong, the lateral toes nearly
equal, the third much longer; the pads and papillae of the soles very large.
Claws long, arched, very slender, much compressed, tapering to a fine point.
Plumage blended. Wings of ordinary length, pointed, the outer three
primaries longest (in one specimen the first longest, in three the second);
secondaries slightly emarginate. Tail of moderate length, deeply emarginate,
the feathers curved outwards at the point.
Bill dusky, tinged with greyish-blue, especially on the edges. Iris hazel.
Feet dark reddish-brown. The general colour of the plumage is rich carmine,
inclining to crimson; the feathers on the fore part and middle of the back
dusky, excepting the tips; the scapulars, wings, upper tail-coverts, and tail
black; two broad bands of white on the wing, the anterior formed by the first
row of small coverts and several of those adjoining, the other by the secondary
coverts, of which the basal half only is black; the inner secondaries are tipped
with white, as are the tail-coverts, and the quills and tail-feathers are very
slightly margined with whitish. Bristly feathers at the base of the bill
yellowish-white; sides brownish, and streaked with dusky, axillar feathers
whitish; lower tail-coverts brownish-black, broadly margined with reddish-white.
Length to end of tail 6 1/2 inches, to end of wings 5 1/4, to end of claws
5; extent of wings 10 5/8; bill along the ridge (8 3/4)/12, along the edge of
lower mandible 7/12; wing from flexure 3 7/12; tail 2 7/12; tarsus (7 1/2)/12;
hind toe (3 1/2)/12, its claw 5/12; middle toe 5/12, its claw 5/12.
The female has the upper parts dusky, the feathers margined with
greyish-yellow, the rump wax-yellow; the lower parts are yellowish-grey,
streaked with dusky, the fore part of the breast wax-yellow; the wings and tail
are as in the male, but paler, and with the white bands on the former of less
breadth. Bill and feet darker than those of the male.
Length to end of tail 6 1/4 inches, to end of wings 5, to end of claws
5 1/4; extent of wings 10.
The young resemble the female, but the lower parts are dull yellowish-grey,
spotted and streaked with dark brown.
After the first moult the male still resembles the female, but is more
yellow. At the next moult it acquires the red colour, which becomes richer and
purer the older the bird.
In this species there are three longitudinal ridges on the roof of the
mouth, and the palate is bent in the same manner as in Buntings. The tongue is
of the same general form as that of the Pine Grosbeak, 3 1/2 twelfths long,
compressed and slender at the base, with the basihyoid bone of a similar form,
concave above, dilated and rounded at the end, so as to resemble a scoop or
spoon. The oesophagus,
[b c d e],
is 2 inches and 8 twelfths long, when dilated
forms a crop of vast size, [c d], which lies chiefly on the right side of the
neck, but also passes behind so as to appear on the left side. This form occurs
equally in the Common Crossbill, and seems to be peculiar to this genus. The
greatest breadth of the crop is 10 twelfths. On entering the thorax, the
oesophagus contracts to 2 twelfths. The proventriculus, [e], is bulbiform, with
a diameter of 3 twelfths. The stomach, [f], is a strong gizzard of rather small
size, somewhat bent in the same manner as that of the Pine Grosbeak, 4 3/4
twelfths long, 6 twelfths broad; its muscles distinct; the cuticular lining very
firm but thin, longitudinally rugous, and of a light red colour. The intestine,
[g h i j k], is 10 1/2 inches long, its greatest diameter 2 twelfths, its least
1 1/2 twelfths. The rectum, [j k], is 1 inch 2 twelfths long, including the
cloaca. The coeca, [j], are 1 1/4 twelfths long, and 1/4 twelfth broad.
The trachea is 1 inch 9 twelfths long, 1 1/2 twelfths broad at the upper
part, gradually diminishing to 1 twelfth; its rings firm, and about 75 in
number. The inferior laryngeal muscles are large. The bronchi are formed of
about 15 half-rings.
The twigs represented in the plate are those of a species of alder common