Our boys are pink in the winter,
Red at summer’s peak,
My mouth is wide and pointed,
But the ends don’t quite meet!
This week’s mystery creature is the White-winged Crossbill!
These little finches can be found in the Okanagan’s pine forests where they happily munch away on up to 3,000 pine cone seeds per day!
Tightly closed cones have always been a bit of a conundrum for birds, since opening the armored scales is pretty tricky without hands! To manage it, the crossbill uses its beak like a lever, pushing the upper section of the curved beak into the cone while leaving the lower section braced on the outside. The crossbill then twists its head which prys open the cone, darts it’s tongue out and grabs the seed!
Only 5 species of birds in the world use this sort of beak technology, making the White-winged Crossbill a master of cones!