Adult males tend to be red or orange in colour, and females green or yellow, but there is much variation. The Scottish Crossbill is extremely difficult to separate from the Red and Parrot, and plumage distinctions are negligible. The head and bill size is intermediate between and overlapping extensively with the other two, and extreme care is needed to identify this species. They have an unusual bill shape is an adaptation to assist the extraction of the seeds from the cone.

Habitat and Distribution

The Scottish crossbill is endemic to the Caledonian Forests of Scotland, and is the only vertebrate unique to the United Kingdom. It breeds in the native Scots pine, Caledonian forests of the Scottish Highlands, but often also in forestry plantations of exotic conifers, notably Larch and Lodgepole pine. This species of crossbill is resident, and is not known to migrate. It will form flocks outside the breeding season, often mixed with other crossbills.


They are specialist feeders on cones of pines (Scots pine and Lodgepole pine) and larch.


It nests in pines or other conifers, laying 2-5 eggs.

Calls and Songs

They have a metallic jip call.