White-winged Crossbills Arrive in Central Park

White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) male...

White-winged Crossbill, male

Yet another irruptive finch species has appeared in Central Park! On Sunday, 4 November 2012, a flyover White-winged Crossbill was seen near the Meer in the North End. On Monday the 5th at least two and perhaps as many as seven White-winged Crossbills were seen well and at close range feeding in the conifers surrounding the balcony that overlooks Shakespeare Garden.

These birds appeared in the same place that the Red Crossbills did on 31 August 2012. This comes as no surprise. White-winged Crossbills are rarely seen feeding on trees other than hemlock and spruce. The tree map of Central Park shows only a small number of such trees, so I knew that there were only a few places to look. The last prior sighting was on 10 January 2010 in Shakespeare Garden; there was also a sighting on 25 January 2009 in Strawberry Fields. If you want to see crossbills, these are the two places to go!

The White-winged Crossbills were again seen in the the same Shakespeare Garden trees the following morning, on the 6th of November.

— David Barrett