Common Crossbill –

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred

The Crossbill is described in the bird report as ‘erratic visitor, has bred’.  What constitutes an ‘erratic visitor’?  Tabulating records from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports shows that from 1993-2007 they were rarely recorded before May.  In some years dozens were recorded, in some years a handful or none.

This table shows the total number of individuals reported in each month

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
1990     13 1225450
1991 26334  4 4  
1992   41       
1993       1117 54 
19944 3  1 12    
1995            
1996         4  
1997    185070 917  
1998      5     
1999      8  67 
2000     3      
2001      1  2  
2002       310111
2003      1     
2004            
2005     39124206  
200612        16  
2007   2       12
20083030   111934492
20091   4 12  2  
20109  4  9  4  
201125  5 20   24  
2012 1010253 14  130
2013   9 14182  12
2014  heard   2  11 4
20157  5 386     
2016   17168     
2017   755555527 
2018 12      101234 
2019 211 20212215924049
2020161936848151

Crossbills are stimulated to breed by an abundance of food – whatever time of year it may occur.   The nearest regularly breeding populations are in Ceredigion, where they  mostly fledge from February to April.  So, good numbers of birds seen in January-April may indicate local breeding.  However, it is really necessary to see evidence of actual nesting to be sure they bred here. From May onwards, it gets really difficult to sort out the locals from immigrants.

More about the Common Crossbill in Pembrokeshire

Common Crossbill – 2003-07 breeding

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed00
Breeding probable01
Breeding possible03
No of tetrads occupied0 (of 478)4 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads0%0.6%

No Common Crossbills were found during the 1984-88 survey. They were recorded in four tetrads during the 2003-07 survey, though there was no firm evidence of breeding in the county. This species breeds very early in the year and is strongly dispersive, which means on the dates birds were seen here they could have come from one of the neighbouring counties, in both of which they are habitual breeders. The only proven breeding in Pembrokeshire was in 1991, following an autumn invasion in 1990.

Crossbills in Ceredigion mostly fledge from February to April but fledging has been recorded from December to July (R. Liford, pers com). To be certain of breeding in Pembrokeshire nest sites must be found, which will require fieldwork effort early in the year. 

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

More about the Common Crossbill in Pembrokeshire

Common Crossbill – 1994

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred

Mathew (1894) gives two records, at Angle in 1858 and at Stackpole in 1868. Lockley et al. (1949) added one at Skokholm on 5 July 1929.

Single Common Crossbills and groups of up to 18 have been recorded in 24 years since, most since 1950. They occur mainly at the coast or on the islands, the increase in frequency perhaps reflecting the spread of the species as a breeding bird elsewhere in Wales as post-World War II conifer plantations have matured. The majority of occurrences have been between 5 July and 17 November. Gatherings of about 50 at Pantmaenog Forest in November 1985 and 56 there on 6 November 1990 were both in years when continental Common Crossbills irrupted into Britain. Birds in the Preseli Mountains plantations were seen carrying nesting material in the early spring of 1991 and breeding was subsequently proven at Ty Rhyg and probably also occurred at Coed Glyn Aeron, Pantmaenog Forest and at Stackpole.

A few Common Crossbills occur on the islands and the coast during years when they irrupt into Britain from Europe.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the Common Crossbill in Pembrokeshire

Common Crossbill – 1949

Loxia curvirostra curvirosta

Mathew gives two records: Angle, 1858; Stackpole Court and elsewhere 1868. 

A female, Skokholm, 5 July 1929 (R.M.L.). Small parties seen in the Fishguard district, Aug-Sept, 1930; one, Rosebush 28 Aug 1930; and several St Davids, 3 Sept, 1930 (Bertram LLoyd).

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society

More about the Common Crossbill in Pembrokeshire

Crossbill – 1894

Loxia curvirostra

An irregular visitor, at all seasons of the year.

The absence of apple orchards in Pembrokeshire may partly account for the infrequency of the appearance of the Common Crossbill in the county. We know of only two records of its occurrence. Mr. Tracy met with a single specimen, one sent to him about 1858 from Angle, a village on the coast to the south-west of Pembroke, and Mr. Dix states that during the autumn of 1868, a year when Crossbills were observed at several localities in the West of England, a few were seen in the lower part of the county, and that he heard of three having been killed near Stackpole Court.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Common Crossbill in Pembrokeshire

Common Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred

Common Crossbill –

A monthly summary of sightings since 1990, according to records in the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports.

Common Crossbill – 2003-07 breeding

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 0 0 Breeding probable 0 1 Breeding possible 0 3 No of tetrads occupied 0 (of 478) 4 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 0% 0.6% No Common Crossbills were found during the 1984-88 survey. They were recorded […]

Common Crossbill – 1994

Loxia curvirostra – GYLFIN GROES – Erratic visitor, has bred Mathew (1894) gives two records, at Angle in 1858 and at Stackpole in 1868. Lockley et al. (1949) added one at Skokholm on 5 July 1929. Single Common Crossbills and groups of up to 18 have been recorded in 24 years since, most since 1950. They occur […]

Crossbill – 1894

Species account from the 1894 ‘Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands’ by Rev M A Mathew