Sunday, August 11, 2013

Photo Study: Red Crossbills of Clearwater National Forest

By Cory DeStein

With my first month in northwest Montana coming to a close, I am getting a pretty good feel for the local breeding birds in the area. I have been focusing quite a bit of time exploring a subalpine lake, Lily Lake at over 6,000 feet in the Clearwater National Forest, just over the border in Idaho. The forests surrounding the lake are dominated by subalpine fir along with, lodgepole pine, Englemann spruce, and Douglas fir. Clark's Nutcracker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeak, Mountain Chickadee, Lincoln and Fox Sparrow. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and Spotted Sandpiper have been observed feeding along the shore. And as with any lake in this region, moose are a frequent evening sight.
Cow moose and her calf at Lily Lake
Pine Grosbeak
Lincoln's Sparrow
Cassin's Finch
Lesser Yellowlegs
Perhaps the most numerous and cooperative bird at the lake is the Red Crossbill. My daily trips there are filled with birds feeding in the larches and gathering grit from the old campfire sites along the trail. I am working on gathering recording on what I suspect may be at least two types of RECR in the area. According to "Introduction to Differences in Crossbill Types" by Matt Young on eBird, there are as many as 9 "vocal types" of Red Crossbills in North America. I downloaded "Recorder the app" for iPhone, allowing me to export AIFF or MP3. An external microphone for the iPhone may be my next investment. I am working with a few people now to better understand using these recordings in call identification, but will keep you all updated on the progress! 

"Introduction to Difference in Crossbill Vocalization" by Matt Young

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