Hispaniolan Crossbill Loxia megaplaga

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Julia A. Hart


Distinguishing Characteristics

A medium-sized landbird with a distinctive bill crossed at the tips. Both sexes have dark wings with two white wingbars. Males are red while females and juveniles have a yellowish wash and streaked breast. 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, giving a repeated chu-chu-chu call.

Similar Species

None within range.

Detailed Description

Averages 15-16 cm long and 28 g. Adults readily identified by unique bill with crossed tips (direction of crossing variable) and two broad white bars on blackish wings. Adult male is a dull brown with a reddish to reddish-orange wash heaviest on the back of the head, upper back, and upper chest.  Adult female is also a dull brown with fine brown streaks on the breast, a yellow wash on the upper breast, and a yellow rump. Juvenal plumage is similar to the female but is more brown overall and has heavier streaking on the breast (Latta et al. 2006).

Adult male Hispaniolan Crossbill © Christopher L. Wood Juvenile male Crossbill © Christopher L. Wood

Underparts of a male crossbill © Gary Rosenberg


Molt not well-described. Juveniles molt body feathers and retain retrices and remiges for first fall plumage. During this prebasic molt, males begin to show orange to red plumage characteristics of adults (Wetmore and Swales 1931).

Bare Parts

No published information on color of bill, iris, or tarsi. Legs and toes pink with grayish claws. Bill is gray to black, paler near tomia. Iris dark brown to black.


Measures 15-16 cm long and weighs 28 g (Latta et al. 2006). Mean wing length of males (n=6) and females (n=7) is 89.3 ± 1.25 mm and 83.5 ± 1.54 mm, respectively (Benkman 1992). Bill dimensions of males are 2-4% larger than those of females (Benkman 1992). Of six male specimens examined by Benkman (1992), mean upper mandible length measured (mm) 16.53 ± 0.22, 12.71 ± 0.33 for lower mandible, and 10.39 for bill depth. Female specimens (n=7) measured (mm) a mean of 15.82 ± 0.50, 11.60 ± 0.50, and 9.56 ± 0.08, respectively.

Recommended Citation

Hart, J. A. (2009). Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia megaplaga), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.hiscro.01