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Hispaniolan Crossbill Loxia megaplaga
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Justification
This species has a very small, fragmented and declining range. Although its numbers fluctuate naturally, its available habitat is decreasing as a result of logging, small-scale agriculture and uncontrolled fires. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Taxonomic note
Loxia leucoptera (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into L. leucoptera and L. megaplaga following AOU (2003).

Identification
15 cm. Medium-sized finch with distinctive crossed mandibles and two white wing-bars. Male pale red with black wings. Female dull olive with blackish wings, yellowish rump and breast, and fine dark streaking on breast. Voice High, emphatic chu-chu-chu-chu call. Also soft warble. Hints Best located by calls of small foraging groups. Regularly visits water to drink.

Distribution and population
Loxia megaplaga occurs primarily in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it was not recorded from 1930-1970 (Dod 1978, Clement et al. 1993). Several birds were found in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica in the early 1970s, but there have been no subsequent records (Dod 1978). In Haiti, it is known from the Massifs de la Selle (Bond 1979) and de la Hotte (Woods and Ottenwalder 1986, Raffaele et al. 1998, Dávalos and Brooks 2001), including the Macaya Biosphere Reserve where small flocks were recorded in 2004 (Rimmer et al 2004). In the Dominican Republic, it occurs mostly in the Sierra de Baoruco, with occasional records from the Cordillera Central (Smith 1997). Numbers presumably declined between the mid-1920s and mid-1960s in response to habitat loss, but by 1978 the species was thought to be recovering (Woods and Ottenwalder 1986). The population apparently fluctuates depending on food availability (Benkman 1994, Latta et al. 2000), but was estimated as c.3,375 individuals following surveys in the Sierra de Baoruco between 1996-1999 (Latta et al. 2000).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 600-3,375 individuals, roughly equating to 400-2,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining at a slow rate, owing to agricultural encroachment into its habitat.

Ecology
It is restricted to pine Pinus occidentalis forests, mostly at high elevations, and feeds exclusively on pine-seeds (Woods and Ottenwalder 1986). There is a large pine-cone crop about every three years, but crops in other years are small or fail altogether (Benkman 1994). Fluctuations in pine-cone abundance are not synchronous, and birds are nomadic in response to food availability, the species has been recorded as low as 540 m and as high as 2,600 (Benkman 1994, Latta et al. 2006). It breeds between January and April, with the timing probably depending on the cone crop (Latta et al. 2000, Latta et al. 2002). The nest is usually built high up in the branches of pine trees (Bond 1979, Latta et al. 2000).

Threats
Logging has been reduced since the mid-1960s, but clearance for small-scale agriculture continues to fragment remaining habitat (Dod 1978, Bond 1979, Woods and Ottenwalder 1986, Ottenwalder 1992b). This presumably isolates populations, making them susceptible to local pine-cone failures (Benkman 1994). Parasitism by Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis may be a problem (Raffaele et al. 1998), but this seems unlikely since M. bonariensis is primarily a coastal species in the Sierra de Baoruco (Latta et al. 2000). The principal threat may now be uncontrolled stand replacement fires, which burn more of the remaining pine habitat than can be replaced through regeneration (Latta et al. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
The vast majority of the population is in Sierra de Baoruco National Park, but there is no active protection and clearance for agriculture is widespread, especially in the border region (Clement et al. 1993, Latta et al. 2000). It has also been found in Armando Bermudez National Park in the Cordillera Central (D. C. Wege pers. obs. 1999) and Macaya Biosphere Reserve (Rimmer et al 2004). A recovery plan was published in 1992 (Ottenwalder 1992b).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine accurately the status and distribution of the species and its habitat (Ottenwalder 1992b). Protect large tracts of mature pine forest over a range of elevations and geographic locations (Benkman 1994, Latta et al. 2000). Work with local communities to ensure the protection of the Sierra de Baoruco National Park.

References
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Benkman, C. W. 1994. Comments on the ecology and status of the Hispaniola Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera megaplaga), with recommendations for its conservation. Caribbean Journal of Science 30: 250-254.

Bond, J. 1979. Birds of the West Indies. Collins, London.

Clement, P.; Harris, A.; Davis, J. 1993. Finches and sparrows: an identification guide. Christopher Helm, London.

Dávalos, L. M.; Brooks, T. 2001. Parc national la Visite, Haiti: a last refuge for the country's montane birds. Cotinga 16: 36-39.

Dod, A. S. 1978. Aves de la República Dominicana. Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santo Domingo.

Latta, S. C.; Sondreal, M. L.; Brown, C. R. 2000. A hierarchical analysis of nesting and foraging habitat for the conservation of the Hispaniolan White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera megaplaga). Biological Conservation 96: 139-150.

Latta, S. C.; Sondreal, M. L.; Mejía, D. A. 2002. Breeding behavior of the endangered Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia megaplaga). Ornitologia Neotropical 13: 225-234.

Latta, S.; Rimmer, C.; Keith, A.; Wiley, J.; Raffaele, H.; McFarland, K.; Fernandez, E. 2006. Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A.

Ottenwalder, J. A. 1992. Recovery plan for the conservation of the Hispaniolan Crossbill in southern Haiti.

Raffaele, H.; Wiley, J.; Garrido, O.; Keith, A.; Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

Rimmer, C. C.; Almonte M, J.; Garrido G, E.; Mejia, D. A.; Milagros P, M.; Wieczoreck, P. R. 2003. Bird records in a montane forest fragment of western Sierra de Neiba, Dominican Republic. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology 16: 55 & 58.

Smith, P. W. 1997. The history and taxonomic status of the Hispaniolan Crossbill Loxia megaplaga. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 117: 264-271.

Woods, C. A.; Ottenwalder, J. A. 1986. Birds of the national parks of Haiti. University of Florida, Gainesville.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

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Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Loxia megaplaga. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/09/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/09/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Fringillidae (Finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers)
Species name author Riley, 1916
Population size 400-2300 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,500 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species