Restricted to the island of Hispaniola. In the Dominican Republic, local resident at higher elevations in the Cordillera Central and Sierra de Bahoruco mountain ranges. In Haiti, found in the Massif de la Selle and Massif de la Hotte. Not reported from Sierra de Neiba. This species is confined to pine forests where it feeds solely on the seeds of Hispaniolan pine (Pinus occidentalis), which occurs as low as 540 m in Jarabacoa (central Dominican Republic) and as high as 2,600 m on Pico del Yaque (the fourth highest peak in the Cordillera Central; Latta et al. 2006).
Distribution outside the Americas
Restricted to forests of Hispaniolan pine. These forests are characterized by a fairly open canopy, a sparse mid-canopy consisting of pine, and a denser mixed-broadleaf understory 2.5 m in height. In Sierra de Bahoruco, average canopy coverage is 51% with the tallest pines 23 m tall and mean pine height of 17.7 m (Latta et al. 2000). A study of nesting and foraging habitat indicates that this species needs mature forests aged 75-100 years old (Latta et al. 2000). This is likely because older trees produce more cones and are more likely to produce cones in any given year, providing a reliable food resource.
This resident crossbill was likely geographically isolated from its sister species, the White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), as the last glacial period ended. As the glaciers retreated on the North American mainland, the Caribbean became increasingly warmer and the Hispaniolan Crossbill was restricted to the highest, coolest areas in the West Indies--the mountains of Hispaniola (Latta et al. 2006). Pine forests on Hispaniola historically reached elevations as low as 200 m (Darrow and Zanoni 1990), but have been extensively cleared or burned with the lowest pines now occurring in the Cordillera Central at 450 m (Latta et al. 2000), indicating a range restriction due to habitat loss.
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