RoyW's picture

Retrieving fallen pine seeds

Observed: 10th March 2012 By: RoyW
British Dragonfly SocietyLondon Natural History Society
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Crossbill 2

A male Common Crossbill, one of several seen feeding on the ground.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


allrounder's picture


A lovely photo Roy

Please see my Flickr photo's

Simon Walker's picture

Great shot, Roy!

I've been trying to get a decent picture of a crossbill for some time, but without much success. The last time I saw any was a pair, but the light was going, and they were in a tree and against the sky - not the best of conditions... What equipment did you use?

RoyW's picture


We were lucky in that there were quite a few crossbills around at the site. Light was generally not great, with largely overcast conditions, so despite using a tripod I lost some shots due to too slow a shutter speed.

This was taken with a Nikon D2X, 500mm F4 lens and 1.4x converter and has been cropped slightly (ISO 320, 1/600, F8 - if you want the full details!).

David Jardine's picture



I have studied Crossbills for many years and wonder if this bird was gathering grit for its gizzard, to grind down the seeds taken from cones, rather than collecting seeds on the ground? I have no experience of them taken fallen seeds.

All the best


RoyW's picture

Gritting and feeding!

Hi David,

There were quite a few Crossbills coming to the ground, and I do think that the main reason for all of them was to take on grit (I also have a suspicion that the item in this birds bill is a piece of grit - or possibly a piece of wood - I was paying more attention to getting the photo!).

Some, including this individual, were definitely picking up some fallen pine seed though, as well as seed that had been put down for other birds. It may well be that they just chose not to ignore seeds found while searching for suitable pieces of grit.

Crossbill species will certainly feed on the ground occasionally, as can be seen in these videos on youtube (the first showing Common/Red Crossbills taking seed from a feeding statio, including from the groud, the second showing White-winged Crossbills feeding from fallen cones):