Saturday, February 7, 2009

Redpoll Identification

I made a trip to the Indiana shores of Lake Michigan to see a previously reported Hoary Redpoll among many Common Redpolls. These redpolls were visiting residential feeders but making many trips in and out and at many times none were present. When they did come in the whole flock would descend on and take over the feeders. There were about 50 redpolls present.

Some identification problems arise between the two species of redpolls, the Common and the Hoary. These species are very similar and close study is needed to differentiate the two. The best way to try to find a Hoary in a flock of redpoll's is to try to pick out a pale/frosty looking bird. The only thing that this does is to specify a candidate that could possibly be a Hoary.

After finding a candidate for Hoary Redpoll look for the following features:

1. Limited and pale to very little streaking on the sides.

2. Clean white undertail coverts. Hoaries may show a couple black specks on the undertail coverts but they are usually clean of specks.

3. Pale scapulars. A Hoary will show white scapulars but a Common will show brown scapulars.

4. A grayer back. Hoaries usually show grayer/paler backs but female Commons can also have a pale back.

The reason that these two species can be so difficult to identify is because of the variability of both of the redpolls.

This picture of a Common Redpoll was taken last year at Indiana Dunes State Park.


Kelly said...

Interesting! I can't even seem to find a Common Redpoll, so I guess I have nothing to worry about. Some day however... :-)

Chad said...

I would like to see either Redpoll since I have yet to see either species. I was wondering though how to tell the difference - looks very hard!

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Great info! Thanks!

Noreen said...

If anyone who knows redpolls has the time to check out my blog, (my May 2011 post), is this bird a common redpoll? I'm starting to think maybe it was a very sick, bloated purple finch--but, still, I THINK it's a redpoll...but I've never seen one before