Hispaniolan Crossbill

Scientific Name
Loxia megaplaga
Conservation Status
Endangered (EN)

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Wikipedia Article

The Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia megaplaga) is a crossbill that is endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and therefore only found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was formerly regarded as conspecific with the Two-barred Crossbill (L. leucoptera), from which it is now assumed it evolved. There is general acceptance that the origin of the L. megaplaga can be traced to southern populations of L. leucoptera. These got stranded on the highest pine-forested mountains in Hispaniola (the highest in all the Caribbean islands) when the glaciers and vast temperate coniferous forests started receding northward after end of the last glacial period at the beginning of the Holocene, some 10,000 years ago. The distance that now separates both species is of thousands of kilometers (from the Caribbean to the northern U.S. and Canada), making the story of the Hispaniolan Crossbill an interesting one from an ecological and environmental point of view. This distribution is similar to that of the Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis), whose native range stretches from southern Mexico as far south as Cape Horn and is absent from all Caribbean islands except Hispaniola. The bird feeds almost exclusively on the seeds from Hispaniolan Pine (Pinus occidentalis) cones.