Thursday, 20 March 2008


A couple of pics that unfortunately didn't make it in to BOS3, instead mainly putative examples being used ( the main pic of the 'Parrot' Crossbill in Vol.2 p.1433 is particularly dubious, and it seems I am not alone in this assertion). Could even be a Common Crossbill ! Here's a real Parrot:

And Again:

The above bird was caught, ringed, measured and sound recorded as a Parrot Crossbill and then photographed 'wild' six months later. It is not a 'possible' or 'probable'. The bird in the "Pinemuncher" Avatar to the side is the same individual. Digiscoped incase you need to know. Maybe not a great a photo, but then there were other not great photo's in BOS3.

Also, does anyone see the point of the nine crossbill profiles in the hand (p.1435), given the specimens chosen ? Is it just me or is that token ? Does it show, as claimed, "variation of bill shapes and sizes through the three species" ? I think not. They certainly don't demonstrate the variation of these charateristics within the species. The first 'Scottish' in line two looks Common and the bill is not typical of scotica. If that was the point of putting it in then fair enough. The furthest right bird in line two doesn't have the lower mandible tip showing ( the only one !) and is thus unhelpful. I feel it would have been more helpful to show a range of Scottish bill sizes, which seems to occur, rather than pick three birds close to the overlap with Common Crossbill. What the nine pics show is that Scottish Crossbill can have the most variation in bill shape at a similar size. Is this the case ? How do we know a bird at 11.0mm is actually a Scottish Crossbill ? On bill shape, plumage, where it was caught, its call (not done I am afraid) ?

From the Commons are we to take it that over their typical size range given as 9.5mm, 10.0mm and 10.6mm that their bill shape is pretty much the same ? This is not my experience, but again I don't know what these photos are meant to be showing.

The three Parrots all look identical and two are the exact same size ! There was an opportunity to show the structural differences with this species that was not taken, essentially 'Parrot' type birds at just over 12.0 ish mm which occur readily in Scotland. I would also add that only sound recordings were made for the furthest left and right Parrots - none at all for the Scottish and Commons. I supplied birds with biometric data and call data (like the one for my only photo - there were originally 4 or 5 of my pics ! ). This was all stated in communications from me but clearly fell on deaf ears as I have apparently only been working on crossbills for 5 minutes. Actually, it's been 5 years CONSTANT, but never mind I will bear it in mind the next time I am asked 'to help'. I don't really see the point of confusing birders further, especially when alternatives were available. I should add that it was not the authors choice either AFAIK.

Had to get it off my chest - the amount of work I did for it (during my holiday) and the resulting decisions and attitudes of certain individuals really surprised me to be frank. I don't really care that my pics were passed over, just a shame that the job, IMO, could have been done much better and been potentially more helpful to birders. Way too many politics going on regarding crossbills if you ask me........... never !

And if those 'that be' so to speak are offended and don't like what I am saying there is an old saying: "publish and be damned". I guess you've just been damned, by me at least. I bought my copy of BOS3 and I am entitled to my opinion just like anyone else. On the whole it is an absolutely fantastic publication.

Right, stuff these crossbills, off to study Chelonia and become yet another 5 minute amatuer.

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