Red Crossbills in May?

Lee Friedman

Yesterday I saw and photographed a pair of Red Crossbills on restricted EBMUD land (no trail access, sorry) in the conifers on the east side of the San Pablo Reservoir. The pair, one male and the other female, seemed to stay near each other. I checked in the Breeding Bird atlases for Contra Costa and for Alameda; neither included Red Crossbills as breeders for this area. The Alameda atlas mentioned a few records of breeding in Hayward from over 100 years ago, and said the species breeds along the northern California coast only down to Sonoma County, and also in the Sierra Nevada. There also don’t appear to be any May sightings of Red Crossbills in eBird records for Contra Costa (although Steve Buffi reported one on 4/24 of this year, and Jerald Britten reported 5 in Clayton on 4/30). I’m wondering if the pair I saw could possibly be breeding here this year? Red Crossbills are prone to irruptions and this year there have been more of them around than usual (there have also been a number of recent sightings of them in San Francisco). Anyone know about the chances that some might stay and breed in the East Bay?

Checklist with photos for id purposes:

Good birding,
Lee Friedman

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