Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia megaplaga)

Hispaniolan Crossbill

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Loxia megaplaga | [UK] Hispaniolan Crossbill | [FR] Bec-croise d’Hispaniola | [DE] Hispaniolakreuzschnabel | [ES] Piquituerto de la Espanola | [NL]

Subspecies

Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Pyrrhula megaplaga
Loxia megaplaga NA Hispaniola

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized finch with distinctive crossed mandibles and two white wing-bars. Male pale red with black wings. Female dull olive with blackish wings, yellowish rump and breast, and fine dark streaking on breast.

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 27 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  

Range

North America : Hispaniola. Loxia megaplaga occurs primarily in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it was not recorded from 1930-1970. Several birds were found in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica in the early 1970s, but there have been no subsequent records. In Haiti, it is known from the Massifs de la Selle and de la Hotte, including the Macaya Biosphere Reserve where small flocks were recorded in 2004. In the Dominican Republic, it occurs mostly in the Sierra de Baoruco, with occasional records from the Cordillera Central.

Habitat

It is restricted to pine Pinus occidentalis forests, mostly at high elevations, and feeds exclusively on pine-seeds. There is a large pine-cone crop about every three years, but crops in other years are small or fail altogether. Fluctuations in pine-cone abundance are not synchronous, and birds are nomadic in response to food availability, the species has been recorded as low as 540 m and as high as 2,600.

Reproduction

It breeds between January and April, with the timing probably depending on the cone crop. The nest is usually built high up in the branches of pine trees.

Feeding habits

They feed exclusively on cones of Hispaniolan pine (Pinus occidentalis) and are restricted to remaining pine forests across the island of Hispaniola. Often found in flocks, especially at sites with abundant cones.

Conservation

This species has a very small, fragmented and declining range. Although its numbers fluctuate naturally, its available habitat is decreasing as a result of logging, small-scale agriculture and uncontrolled fires. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.
Logging has been reduced since the mid-1960s, but clearance for small-scale agriculture continues to fragment remaining habitat. This presumably isolates populations, making them susceptible to local pine-cone failures. Parasitism by Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis may be a problem, but this seems unlikely since M. bonariensis is primarily a coastal species in the Sierra de Baoruco. The principal threat may now be uncontrolled stand replacement fires, which burn more of the remaining pine habitat than can be replaced through regeneration.
Hispaniolan Crossbill status Endangered

Migration

Resident

Distribution map

Hispaniolan Crossbill distribution range map

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