I started keeping a record on social media of my wing scanning project a few weeks ago, but I decided that I would be better served to generate content for my website.  So, I will begin that today.  I have a pretty big backlog of cool birds that I've already scanned that I want to talk about, so I will endeavor to get caught up while keeping a running log of the birds that cross my scanner.  So, here we go!

Today I scanned wings from an incredibly cool bird. Loxia curvirostra (red crossbill) is a finch whose bill is particularly well, and peculiarly, adapted to their diet: pine nuts. If you know anything about pine nuts, you know that they are typically encased in a tough, prickly, not very tasty fortress (pine cone). Getting at pine nuts is tough work, which is part of why they're so expensive. That is, unless you're a crossbill! Have a look at that beak! The crossed bill allows the birds to thwart the pine cone's defenses, and get to the good stuff inside.

As a side note, one of my M.Sc. committee members, Craig Benkman, has done a ton of really interesting work studying crossbills and their relationship with the trees that they depend on.


Photo credit: Elaine R. Wilson, via  http://www.naturespicsonline.com/   

Photo credit: Elaine R. Wilson, via http://www.naturespicsonline.com/ 

Moving on today, I encountered another stunning little bird, Spinus lawrencei (Lawrence's goldfinch).


Photo credit: Simon Pierre Barrette, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cephas

Photo credit: Simon Pierre Barrette, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cephas

I wrapped up the day with a slightly more common, but still lovely species: Spinus pinus (pine siskin). I used to love hearing the siskins all over the place in Laramie.