Species Profile

Red Crossbill percna subspecies

Scientific Name: Loxia curvirostra percna
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2016
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C2a(ii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This subspecies is a distinctive taxonomic group endemic to Canada. Previously known to breed only on the island of Newfoundland, it has within the past five years also been documented nesting on Anticosti Island. While the Canadian population is thought to be greater than was understood previously due to the recent discovery of a breeding population component on Anticosti Island, there is no evidence of an increasing trend. On the contrary, this taxon has experienced a substantial long-term decline. Further population decrease is expected based on identified threats, most notably competition and predation from introduced squirrels in Newfoundland, habitat loss due to logging, and a fungal disease affecting Red Pine.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2004. Status re-examined and designated Threatened April 2016.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-07-14

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

Red Crossbill percna is one of 10 recognized forms of Red Crossbill in North America. It is a medium-sized finch and a specialized seed eater having curved and crossed mandibles, muscular hinged jaws, and strong clasping feet for prying open conifer cone scales to access the seeds. Red Crossbill males are dull red, females are greyish-olive, and juveniles are dull grey to brownish and heavily streaked. Compared to other Red Crossbill forms in North America, percna has a relatively stout and deep (tall) bill, larger body size, and darker, duskier plumage. Each form of Red Crossbill in North America is characterized by minor differences in morphology, genetics, and behaviour. Forms are also referred to as vocal types; each is most readily and reliably identified by spectrographic analysis of their unique flight vocalizations. Recent research suggests that Red Crossbill percna may correspond with Type 8. North American Red Crossbills likely represent a complex of cryptic species. Though weakly differentiated genetically, vocalization may promote reproductive isolation even among groups that are not geographically separated. Red Crossbill percna is significant because it is a distinct taxonomic group restricted to insular Newfoundland and Labrador (hereafter “Newfoundland”) and surrounding islands, and Anticosti Island (QC). (Updated 2016/12/20)

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Distribution and Population

Red Crossbills (form/vocal type(s) unknown) were historically considered to occur throughout most of Newfoundland, but with an erratic and localized distribution. Their range apparently has contracted since the first half of the 20th century; the current distribution of Red Crossbill (both percna and other forms) in Newfoundland is not fully understood. Presence of percna/Type 8 in Newfoundland was confirmed during 2005-2011 via audiospectrographic and morphometric analyses on the Avalon Peninsula, and in eastern, central, and western insular Newfoundland. Probable breeding of Type 8 Red Crossbills having morphology within the documented range of values for percna was also documented on Anticosti Island, QC, in summer 2014. Birds that possibly are percna (i.e., have large bills) have been documented in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec (on the mainland and Magdalen Islands), and in New England (USA); these sightings may represent areas of irregular irruptions during years of food shortages in core areas of occurrence. (Updated 2016/12/20)

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Habitat

All Red Crossbill forms are closely associated with cone-productive forests. Forms vary with respect to bill morphology, with each specialized to feed on particular conifer species. All large-billed crossbills, including percna, are pine forest associates. In Newfoundland, Red and White Pine stands likely represented a significant portion of important habitat for percna in the past; however, these native pines (particularly Red Pine) are currently rare on the Island and do not occur on Anticosti Island. Mature Black Spruce forests, and to a lesser extent Balsam Fir and White Spruce forests, historically and currently provide additional important habitat for percna. Throughout recent history, habitat conversion, forest harvesting, fire, insect damage, and fungal infestations have led to reductions in conifer seed abundance in Newfoundland. Cone consumption by Red Squirrels introduced to Newfoundland in 1963 is implicated as causing significant recent declines in cone availability. Recent projections by the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Department of Natural Resources indicate a significant increase in cone production on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula over the next two decades. However, a major Spruce Budworm outbreak is expected to occur in Newfoundland and Anticosti Island in the near future; such an outbreak could have a negative effect on cone availability, but may provide some food in the form of insect larvae and pupae. (Updated 2016/12/20)

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Biology

All forms of Red Crossbill are dependent on conifer forests for the food resources they provide in the form of conifer seeds; availability of cones highly influences survival and breeding. Red Crossbills are irruptive and undertake movements across a range of spatial scales in search of sufficient cone crops, though some populations (possibly including percna) tend to exhibit more sedentary behaviour. Irrupting birds tend to be reasonably faithful to core breeding areas, to which some return within a few years of the irruption. Red Crossbills are monogamous, form pair bonds, nest in loose aggregations, and forage in flocks. They have a flexible breeding strategy, can have multiple broods, and nest in colder months if conifer seeds are abundant. Other adaptations to extreme variability in conifer seed crops include sexual maturity at a relatively young age, accelerated succession of broods, and tolerance of repeated cooling and slow development of young when food is relatively scarce. (Updated 2016/12/20)

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Threats

Threats to percna are not clearly understood due to the general lack of information on the taxon in Newfoundland and Anticosti Island. Probable threats (from highest to lowest apparent/predicted impact) include: i) invasive, non-native species and problematic native species (i.e., competition for food resources and nest predation by introduced Red Squirrels in Newfoundland, fungal infestations affecting native and non-native pines in Newfoundland, and insect outbreaks resulting in reduced cone production or tree mortality); ii) biological resource use (i.e., forest harvesting); iii) natural system modifications (i.e., forest fires and forest fire suppression); iv) transportation and service corridors (i.e., roadways); v) mining and quarrying; and vi) agriculture. At times, birds face starvation if cone crops fail across wide geographic areas; additional causes of mortality for percna are vehicle strikes and predation. (Updated 2016/12/20)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Red Crossbill percna subspecies is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Red Crossbill, percna subspecies (Loxia curvirostra percna), in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Red Crossbill (percna subspecies) Recovery Team

  • Peter Thomas - Chair/Contact - Environment Canada
    Phone: 709-772-4297  Fax: 709-772-5097  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Preliminary mapping of potential habitat has been completed and incidental Red Crossbill sightings are being collected. Summary of Recovery Activities In an attempt to gain public knowledge of the species while offering an educational tool, a brochure was created with some background information on the species. Part of this brochure included contact information and a request to report any and all sightings of the species. These brochures have been distributed throughout Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces. URLs Bird Life International:http://www.bsc-eoc.org/organization/newsarchive/12-10-04.html Red Crossbill:http://www.birds.cornell.edu/bow/REDCRO/

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

37 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Red Crossbill percna subspecies Loxia curvirostra percna in Canada (2016-12-29)

    Red Crossbill percna is one of 10 recognized forms of Red Crossbill in North America. It is a medium-sized finch and a specialized seed eater having curved and crossed mandibles, muscular hinged jaws, and strong clasping feet for prying open conifer cone scales to access the seeds. Red Crossbill males are dull red, females are greyish-olive, and juveniles are dull grey to brownish and heavily streaked. Compared to other Red Crossbill forms in North America, percna has a relatively stout and deep (tall) bill, larger body size, and darker, duskier plumage.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Red Crossbill percna subspecies (2017-01-11)

    This subspecies is a distinctive taxonomic group endemic to Canada. Previously known to breed only on the island of Newfoundland, it has within the past five years also been documented nesting on Anticosti Island. While the Canadian population is thought to be greater than was understood previously due to the recent discovery of a breeding population component on Anticosti Island, there is no evidence of an increasing trend. On the contrary, this taxon has experienced a substantial long-term decline. Further population decrease is expected based on identified threats, most notably competition and predation from introduced squirrels in Newfoundland, habitat loss due to logging, and a fungal disease affecting Red Pine.
  • Response Statement - Red Crossbill percna subspecies (percna) (2004-10-22)

    The percna subspecies of the Red Crossbill is considered a distinctive taxonomic group, with breeding likely restricted to the island of Newfoundland. Various population estimates suggest that it is has declined markedly and steadily over the last 50 years, along with declines in the extent and quality of its habitat. A few records of the percna subspecies exist for Nova Scotia and other locations, but there is not enough information to determine its status there.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Red Crossbill, percna subspecies (Loxia curvirostra percna), in Canada (2006-10-25)

    The Red Crossbill, percna subspecies, is a migratory bird covered under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and is under the management jurisdiction of the federal government. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will have primary responsibility for the management of a significant portion of the Red Crossbill’s critical habitat once it has been identified. The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. The Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act also requires the development of a recovery plan within one year of listing for an endangered species. The Red Crossbill was listed as endangered under SARA in July 2005 and under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act in December 2004. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Atlantic Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this recovery strategy in cooperation with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Red Crossbill Recovery Team. All responsible jurisdictions have reviewed and approved the strategy. The strategy meets SARA (Sections 39–41) and Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act (Section 23) requirements in terms of content and process.

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Red Crossbill, percna subspecies (Loxia curvirostra percna), in Canada (2012-03-08)

    The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 47) requires the competent minister to prepare action plans, based on the recovery strategy, for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. The Red Crossbill percna subspecies was listed as endangered under SARA in May 2005 and the recovery strategy was finalized in October 2006. Environment Canada led the development of the action plan in partnership with the Parks Canada Agency. This action plan was prepared in cooperation with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, First Nations and Aboriginal groups, and other federal government departments.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gros Morne National Park (2016-03-29)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Gros Morne National Park of Canada is a SARA action plan (SARA s.47) for Piping Plover (melodus subspecies), American Marten (Newfoundland population), and Red Crossbill (percna subspecies). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 11 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the Park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Gros Morne National Park.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland (2017-08-25)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Terra Nova National Park of Canada (TNNP) as well as the national historic sites (NHS) of Canada within eastern Newfoundland, including Ryan Premises, Hawthorne Cottage, Castle Hill, Signal Hill, and Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur within TNNP and in the national historic sites in the region.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2004-10-19)

    The Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (Volume 153, Number 11, 2019) (2019-05-29)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 15, 2005) (2005-07-27)

    The Minister of the Environment is recommending, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), that 43 species be added to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. This recommendation is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2004 (2004-09-16)

    2004 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2015-2016 (2016-10-13)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 25 wildlife species; of these, the majority (68%) were re-assessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 45 species assessed, seven were assigned a status of Not at Risk (two re-assessments and five new assessments). To date, and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 724 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 320 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 209 Special Concern, and 23 Extirpated (i.e., no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 15 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 54 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 177 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: November 2004 (2004-11-23)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species - January 2017 (2017-01-16)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. In 2016, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, the Governor in Council approved listing proposals for 44 wildlife species. It is proposed that 23 species be added to Schedule 1, 18 be reclassified or have a change made to how they are defined (two wildlife species are being split into four), one species  be removed from Schedule 1, and another two species not be added. Listing proposals were published in Canada Gazette, part I for a 30-day public comment period and final listing decisions for all 44 species are expected in the first half of 2017.Please submit your comments byMay 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Minister of Environment response to COSEWIC species at risk assessments: October 13, 2016 The COSEWIC Summaries of Terrestrial Species Eligible for Addition or Reclassification on Schedule 1 - January 2017

Residence Description

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
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