[7] They tend to build their cup-shaped nests in April, using twigs, grasses and needles. [12] It is the older and weathered cones that are more readily accessible as the scales begin to separate. Its name comes from Cassia County, Idaho, the only location where it occurs. [2], The species was first described in 2009,[2] but only was accepted to be its own species in 2017, when it was found out to be phylogenetically distinct from the red crossbill, and its 10 unique call types. [2] However, under the IUCN Red list criteria, it qualifies to be considered critically endangered due to its limited home range, small population and probable habitat degradation. [6], The Cassia crossbill (Loxia sinesciuris) was first described in 2009 as the South Hills crossbill, but The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) failed to find consensus on the issue of splitting the species from the red crossbill in 2009. The Cassia crossbill (Loxia sinesciuris) is a passerine bird in the family Fringillidae. “That’s the thing with this species: It’s not well understood,” Hutchinson says. This has led to a coevolutionary arms race be… [1][3] In 2017, the AOU reached a consensus and split the South Hills crossbill from the red crossbill and rename it the Cassia crossbill, because its habitat resided in Cassia County, Idaho. The Cassia Crossbill, a finch with a crisscrossed bill, is closely related to the widespread Red Crossbill and was recognized as a full species in 2017. The Cassia Crossbill also differs from Red Crossbill through shifted and set phenology of life history events. [11] The seeds of younger serotinous cones (1–10 years) are harder for the crossbill to pry open due to them being strongly bonded together. It lives only in lodgepole pine forests of the South Hills and Albion Mountains in Cassia County, southern Idaho. [13], As mentioned previously, the red crossbill had 10 different call types and the Cassia crossbill was call type 9. 2009). Formerly considered a localized form of Red Crossbill, the Cassia Crossbill was officially recognized as a full species in 2017. [10] The idea of reproductive isolation between call types was suggested, but direct evidence was lacking. [12] Because of warmer weather, another threat are mountain pine bark beetle infestations. [2] The crossbill will use its beak to pry the cone open and then it will use its tongue to obtain the seed. [1] This is an example of sympatric speciation. [2] Their song consists of strained and sharp chip and kip calls. [2][7] A primary reason why this species of crossbill can exist in such a small area and on a singular food source is due to the lack of squirrels, the usual primary seed dispersal of the lodgepole pine. [12] The Cassia crossbill will mainly eat seeds from cones on the pine tree itself, but fallen cones are also foraged on as well. [7] This has led to a coevolutionary arms race between the crossbill and lodgepole pine, as the Cassia crossbill is the primary selective agent. The crossbill will then use a groove inside its mouth to shell the seed to eventually eat it. [2] The Cassia Crossbill fledgling initially imitates its parents’ flight calls and eventually will modify its call to imitate their mate. [14][15] Compared to the other call types, the Cassia crossbills songs will be more repetitive while using fewer syllables. [6] They will burrow in the pine trees and subsequently killing them, which can further exacerbate the food security problem for these birds. [7] Furthermore, evidence suggested that the South Hills crossbill was in a coevolutionary arms race with the lodgepole pine, further leading to habitat isolation. It is believed that crossbills used the public information of different calls to forage. [6] The potential for large fires increases every year due to climate change, which can prove disastrous for the crossbills if a significant portion of the pine trees die. [4], The current total population estimation is ≈5,800 individuals. It is endemic to the South Hills and Albion Mountains in southern Idaho. [2], The Cassia crossbill is found year-round exclusively in the forests of the South Hills and Albion Mountains in South Idaho. This tit-for-tat between the lodgepole pine and the crossbill is called an evolutionary arms race. Because the two areas have no red squirrels. The Cassia crossbill will exclusively forage for lodgepole pine cones that are found in the South Hills and Albion Mountains region. Deer aren't the only animals that visit salt licks. [4][7] Courtship of the crossbills involves the male attracting the female by singing, flying and feeding them with pine seeds. Squirrels are a common sight in many forests, but not in the lodgepole pine forests of Idaho's South Hills and Albion Mountains. Additionally and related to their sedentary lifestyle and regular breeding cycle, the Cassia … [2][3][9] Initially, it was considered one of the Red Crossbills’ 10 call types, which had different vocalizations, bill size and were foraging for different conifer species.

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