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Common Redpoll

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Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Paul O'Toole

One of the most popular winter finches, the common redpoll is a colorful and perky bird eagerly anticipated at birdfeeders in the colder months.

Common Name:

Common Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll

Scientific Name:

Carduelis flammea

Foods:

Seeds, insects, buds

Habitat and Migration:

Common redpolls live year round in open boreal and tundra habitats near the Arctic circle and throughout northern Canada and Alaska. While only the northernmost populations migrate, this species does have periodic irruptions that take it as far south as northern Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan, New York and the northern New England states. Common redpolls have a similar distribution throughout northern Europe and Asia, and they have also been introduced to New Zealand, where they can be commonly found.

Vocalizations:

Common redpolls are a gregarious species with a rapid chittering trill call that can either be buzzing or bubbling. A “sweee-eee-eeet” call is also common.

Behavior:

Unlike many small birds, common redpolls are not aggressive and easily share space with other small bird species. They form flocks throughout the year, and they can become tame in the backyard. Even during the nesting season, redpoll colonies are common.

Reproduction:

These are monogamous birds that raise 1-2 broods of 3-7 eggs each annually. The female parent incubates the eggs for 10-11 days, and she is responsible for most of the feeding for the altricial young. The chicks are ready to leave the nest after 9-14 days.

Attracting Common Redpolls:

These easy going birds are popular guests in urban and suburban backyards during irruption years. They come readily to feeders offering nyger, millet and black oil sunflower seeds, particularly ground, platform or tube feeders. Birders can encourage these birds to stay nearby by offering bird-friendly landscaping with coniferous trees and shrubs or a brush pile for winter shelter.

Similar Birds:

  • Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)
  • Common Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
  • Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)
  • Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii)
  • House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Photo – Common Redpoll – Facing Right © Paul O'Toole
Photo – Common Redpoll – Facing Left © nature55

Appearance:

  • Bill: Sharp,yellow with black tip
  • Size: 5 inches long with 8.5-inch wingspan, notched tail
  • Colors: Red, brown, black, white, pink
  • Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have a bright red cap on the forehead and a small black patch under the chin and surrounding the bill. A pink or red wash on the chest and flanks is highly variable, and the underparts are white with brown streaks. The back is brown streaked with white, and the darker wings have two narrow white wing bars. The tail is blackish, and the legs and feet are dark. Females are similar but have less red wash on the chest and the cap is noticeably duller.
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