News archive

January 2020

Friday, 31 January 2020

January Bird of the Month - Common Crossbill

In Britain and Ireland the crossbill is a widespread but spasmodic breeder. When the conditions are right they are very early nesters and across their range have been found breeding in every month of the year.

The crossbill is a gregarious and chunky finch with large head, bull neck and forked tail. It has evolved crossed-tip mandibles in order to prise the seeds from the conifer cones. Apparently half of crossbills have their lower mandible crossed to the left and the other half have the lower mandible crossed to the right!

Males range in colour from brick-red to orange or yellow, or sometimes a mixture of both, with streaked backs. Females are greyish-green and slightly streaked. Juveniles are brown and are more heavily streaked above and below.

The crossbill is a versatile and acrobatic feeder. It climbs using its feet and bill and flutters from branch to branch like a small parrot. They often feed high in the treetops and can be difficult to see. The cones are wrenched off and held under the feet whilst the seeds are extracted by the specialised bill. Some insects and invertebrates are also taken.

Flight is fast and undulating and often at treetop height. Listen for the distinctive flight call, which is a loud metallic 'glipp-glipp-glipp'. Crossbills need to drink frequently and can be observed coming down to the edges of ponds, streams and puddles. Another observation tip is to listen for the sound of the falling cones when they are feeding.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Big Garden Bird Watch Stall at HVSC 18 & 19 January

Big Garden Bird Watch Stall at HVSC 18 & 19 January

Come and find out from the RSPB Medway Local Group how to take part in this event which takes place Saturday 25 to Monday 27 January and help with the RSPB's Giving Nature a Home.

We will be offering the following activities, which are FREE, but donations are welcome:

Get your Survey Form for Big Garden Bird Watch

Make bird feeder

Take part in a Bird Quiz and win a prize

Plus, Childrens craft

For your FREE BGBW PACK, call 0800 665 498, Text BIRD to 70111 or visit

By texting your telephone number, you consent to the RSPB getting in touch to request delivery details for the pack. Calls are free. Texts may be charged at your standard network rate for SMS.

Follow us on Facebook at the RSPB Medway Local Group.

This event takes place at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre ME7 3PD from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 January.