This is a well-built finch with a large head and substantial beak with the distinctive crossed mandibles. They are highly adapted to feeding on seeds taken from native Scots pine cones, breaking into the cones with their strong beaks. They also feed on the seed cones of other commercially grown conifers including noble fir and Norwegian spruce. Males are crimson pink with grey wings and tail. Females are predominantly olive with yellowish under parts.
This bird is unique to Scotland. It is resident throughout the year and breeds in early summer.
Found only in the Highlands it is seen in mature Scots pine
woods where family flocks can be found feeding together at the tops of conifers from June onwards.
This is Scotland’s one and only endemic species of bird (that is a species found only in Scotland and nowhere else). It can be difficult to tell the Scottish crossbill apart from the two other members of the crossbill family that share its range, namely the crossbill and the parrot crossbill. For more information about the debate about whether the Scottish crossbill is a separate species, click here.