While Edie Calaway and I were at Fayetteville Country Club February 11, she collected an image of two Red Crossbills on the ground in a bare spot at the base of a small tree. While almost all of the golf course is grass – of course – there are scattered bare areas at the bases of some trees, plus sand traps associated with the course. Consumption by crossbills of grit and/or minerals is well-documented behavior in the literature.
If the crossbills are getting into sand traps, I haven’t seen it. Edie’s photograph shows a female crossbill with her tongue extended to the sandy soil formed from brown sandstone rubble typical of the flat topped mountains in the Fayetteville area. This kind of sandy soil was once famous for growing watermelons, now maybe serves the needs of visiting crossbills?
Has anyone else photographed them up there on sandy soil? I would like to see such images.
As for other behaviors: All of us who have been going up there have seen crossbills foraging in pines and also watched them obviously drinking, either at ponds, run-off from ponds, and in shallow ephemeral pools formed when trees were removed by stump grinding. We also saw them consuming algae on broad flats formed during low water at the biggest pond.
I was up there yesterday on a fine warm, sunny February morning and found several small flocks. On the lookout for nesting.