This bird with a strange beak is called a crossbill. It is not a common bird, but you may see one in pine woodlands, as it feeds on seeds from conifers. The unusual bill shape is an adaptation to help it pick out seeds from the cone.
The crossbills found in northern Scotland have a larger beak than the birds further south. In 1977 it was decided that they are actually a separate species and these birds are now known as the Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica), to distinguish it from the common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra). The Scottish crossbill is the UK's only endemic bird species (ie one found nowhere else in the world), it is on the RSPB’s Red List.
In some ways the crossbill should be the bird that symbolises Easter, in the way that the robin is associated in everyone’s minds with Christmas. In Germany it is called the krützvogel – crossbird – and the name links it with the cross of Christ. It was said that it gained its crossed beaks when it tried to pull the nails from Christ’s hands and feet, and that the bright red feathers of the male are the result of it being smeared with Christ’s blood when it did this. In England it was said to hatch its eggs on Christmas day (and it certainly does often breed in winter months, to take advantage of maximum cone supplies) and to fly in full plumage on Easter Day. Truly, a bird for Easter!
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.’
‘Lord Jesus, we thank you that you are with us, even in times of darkness, loneliness and pain. Amen.’