Earlier this year I had my first ever Common Redpolls in my yard. They first showed up on January 11th and I recorded the last one here on April 12, at least 2 weeks past the time they should have left. While I was listing these birds every day, it was surprising to me to see that on March 23rd they were expected to be here, and the next day they became a rare bird and were flagged on my ebird list!
While they started out with just one or two birds, their population soon swelled until I was seeing two dozen on a regular basis with a high count of 90 birds on March 19th! Starting April 1st I saw 5 or less individual birds each day until April 12th. Then they were gone. These photos were taken between February 3rd and March 16th. I have several feeders in my yard and as you can see the birds moved around from location to location and feeder to feeder.
When the redpolls first showed up I searched and searched for a rare Hoary Redpoll among them. Hoary Redpolls are described as being paler with a frosty look, and having a stubby beak that looks like a punched in face and they are only supposed to have three or less streaks on their rumps. There were times that I thought I saw one, but I never got a photo. Then I read a few articles that suggested they may not be a different species after all, but just a color variation of the same bird species, or a sub-species. There is talk of lumping them all together. Once I read that, I just gave up looking for a Hoary Redpoll and just enjoyed the birds! (See links below)
- All About Birds: How Many Species of Redpolls Are There?
- ABA Blog: Hoary Redpolls; A False Dichotomy?
- Maine Birds FB Group Article by Louis Bevier Ornithologist from Colby College addressing the Hoary/Common Redpoll Debate
- Redpoll Identification-Sibley Guides
- All About Birds: Common Redpolls
- All About Birds: Hoary Redpolls