The female was peeling wood fiber off of a dead limb on a Red Oak.
She was silent, intently working on the limb.
Once she had a small bundle, both birds flew off out of sight.
I had a feeling as to what was going on, so I stayed in the area to see if they returned. A short while later both birds returned and the female this time perched on the end of a branch and continued to gather material.
Once another mouthful was collected, both birds flew off again. Red Crossbills can nest at any time of the year so it was becoming obvious that the female was gathering nesting material.
The male remained within a few feet of the female at all times, occasionally preening and even breaking out into song a few times. It did not however appear to be helping with any of the nest building activities. The whole process was continued a few more times and I was able to follow them(on snowshoes) through the woods; each time a little further in the hopes of locating the nest. I think I'm zeroing in on it. It's only a 10,000 acre forest.
A Northern Goshawk was spotted taking a mid-morning soar.
The bird was gaining altitude quickly.
When they soar like this, it's easy to see how sometimes they can be mistaken for buteos.