White-Winged Crossbill in Winter

White-winged crossbill  perched on a branch
White-winged crossbill (immature male). Image by Hans Toom from Pixabay

Appearance: The white-winged crossbill is a medium-sized bird about 6″ long with a rosy pink color, black wings & tail, and two white wingbars. The females are similar but they are more yellow rather than rosy-pink. Immature white-winged crossbills are browner and streaked underneath.

Winter diet: Seeds, especially from cones of spruce and tamarack trees (their crossbill is uniquely designed to pry open the cones) but they’ll also eat seeds from other trees including pines, hemlocks, cedar, birch, etc.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: White-winged crossbills prefer northern regions thickly forested with spruce, hemlocks, and tamarack trees.

Migration: White-winged crossbills do not migrate. However, when their primary food source “cones” become scarce in their year-round range they commonly head further south in search of more.
Year-round range: Alaska, northern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan & New England, and all Canadian provinces.
Winter range: The year-round range as well as northern Montana, North Dakota, south into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New England.

Range Map

White-winged crossbill range map.
White-winged crossbill range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.
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