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Crossbills

crossbill_birdnote.jpg

A close look at this Red Crossbill reveals a curious adaptation.

The long tips of the upper and lower bill don't meet, but instead cross over each other.

The bills of young birds are not crossed at hatching, but cross as they grow.

The Red Crossbill bites between the scales of a pine cone and pries them apart by opening its bill, then dislodges the seed with its tongue.

See a video or a Crossbill foraging here and learn more on BirdNote just before the 9 o'clock news, Saturday mornings on VPR.

Audio: http://www.vpr.net/audio/programs/232/2013/01/Crossbills-Beak-Does-the-Job.mp3