Parrot Crossbill

Loxia pytyopsittacus (von Borkhausen, 1793) PC PARCR 16680
Family: Passeriformes > Fringillidae

Parrot Crossbill, Liz Cutting

Separating Parrot Crossbill from Common and Scottish Crossbills is challenging. The Parrot Crossbill is bulkier and has a subtly different call.

Most interactions between Parrot Crossbill and birdwatchers occur during winter when the species occasionally irrupts from its native northern Europe in search of pine seed. Most UK 'invasions' of Parrot Crossbill number in the tens of individuals.

There is a small breeding population of Parrot Crossbill in the Caledonian pine forest of north-east Scotland. The winter range is similarly restricted.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Parrot Crossbill

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Parrot Crossbill identification is often difficult.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Parrot Crossbill, provided by xeno-canto contributors.



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



This species is occasionally recorded in the UK during 'irruption' years when large numbers of crossbills arrive from Scandinavia. Large irruptions occurred in 1962/63 and 1982/83. The first confirmed breeding record in the UK occurred in 1984 in Norfolk (Catley & Hursthouse 1985). Re-assessment of previous Crossbill records in Scotland from specimens indicates that Parrot Crossbill were scarce during the twentieth century but a survey of Crossbills in Scotland in 2008 found around 100 Parrot Crossbills (Summers & Buckland 2011) suggesting that a possible change of status may have occurred. However, this is unclear as the records may relate to an irruption year: hence, further information is needed to confirm the status of this species in the UK.


Parrot Crossbill is a rare resident of ancient native pinewoods and large plantations in northern and northeastern Scotland. Identification issues make getting an accurate picture of the species' breeding distribution tricky. During the breeding season of 2008–11

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Parrot Crossbill is a very rare resident and rare autumn vagrant.

Weekly occurence of Parrot Crossbill from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Parrot Crossbill, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Catalan: trencapinyes becgròs
Czech: krivka velká
Danish: Stor Korsnæb
Dutch: Grote Kruisbek
Estonian: männi-käbilind
Finnish: isokäpylintu
French: Bec-croisé perroquet
German: Kiefernkreuzschnabel
Hungarian: nagy keresztcsoru
Icelandic: Pánefur
Italian: Crociere delle pinete
Latvian: priežu krustknabis, priežu putns
Lithuanian: pušinis kryžiasnapis
Norwegian: Furukorsnebb
Polish: krzyzodziób sosnowy
Portuguese: cruza-bico-papagaio
Slovak: krivonos sosnový
Slovenian: veliki krivokljun
Spanish: Piquituerto lorito
Swedish: större korsnäbb


Interpretation and scientific publications about Parrot Crossbill from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

It is not yet clear whether the status of Parrot Crossbill has changed and whether it has become a more regular breeding species in the UK. Crossbill populations are prone to fluctuations following 'irruption' years, and the recent high counts in Scotland may relate to an irruption and may not represent a longer term change of status for this species.

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