Hispaniolan Crossbill

The Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia megaplaga) is a crossbill which is endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the West Indies.

It was formerly regarded as conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species) with the Two-barred Crossbill Loxia 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 which got stranded on the highest pine-forested mountains in Hispaniola (the highest in all the Caribbean islands) when the glaciers and the cold started receding northward, as did the vast coniferous forests, after end of the last ice age, when the Holocene epoch began, 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 (there is also a similar case regarding Zonotrichia capensis, a sparrow which is absent from all Caribbean islands except Hispaniola, and which is found from southern Mexico down to Cape Horn).

Diet / Feeding:

The bird feeds almost exclusively on the seeds of Pinus occidentalis cones

Photo of author

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