Few people would speak of a red crossbill and a northern hawk owl in the same sentence, but I will always link these birds because my only sighting of each species was on the same day: February 22, 2005. On that day, with Fred Lesher, Carol Schumacher, and Rochester birder Bill Bruins, I visited the small town of Manly in north central Iowa to see the hawk owl that had wandered far south of its normal range to spend the winter there. From Manly, we traveled west to Thorpe Park in Winnebago County, where a pair of red crossbills was in residence. As soon as we entered the park office, we saw a red, dark-winged male at a sunflower seed feeder. Soon the female arrived. She was grayish olive and yellow with dark wings.
Text by Nancy Overcott, art by Dana Gardner, Fifty Uncommon Birds of the Upper Midwest