The Crossbill Quiz

The Crossbill Quiz

Last week I facilitated the Sound Identification Panel at the Western Field Ornithologists Conference, which is a wonderful privilege I have been treated to for each of the last four years.  For those who don’t know, the Sound ID Panel is an annual WFO tradition started by Sylvia Gallagher. In front of a large live audience, a moderator (that’s me) quizzes an expert panel on the identification of mystery bird sounds.  This year our panelists were Ted Floyd, Oscar Johnson, Jon Feenstra, Rich Hoyer, and Tayler Brooks, and I must say they did an outstanding job.  In collaboration with each other, and notwithstanding the occasional wrong answer, they managed to identify almost every mystery sound in the end, and believe me, that’s not an easy feat.

In 2009 I decided to cross a line I’ve been reluctant to cross in the past.  I put Red Crossbills in the mix.  It seemed natural, since the conference was in Idaho, home to the endemic South Hills Crossbill, and our keynote speaker was crossbill guru Craig Benkman.  I gave the panel the following quiz:

Red Crossbill Call Types: Matching

In this quiz you’ll hear one example of each of the four most common and widespread crossbill types in the western United States, listed below with the tree species they are believed to specialize on:

  • Type 2 (Ponderosa Pine)
  • Type 3 (Western Hemlock)
  • Type 4 (Douglas-Fir)
  • Type 5 (Lodgepole Pine, Rocky Mountain variety)

Plus, given the location of the conference, we’re tossing in the sedentary and range-restricted South Hills Crossbill, endemic to Idaho, which has been proposed as a separate species, Loxia sinesciuris:

  • Type 9 (Lodgepole Pine, South Hills variety)

Here are the sound clips in random order.






How well can you do?  Answers will be posted in a subsequent message.

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