The redpoll belongs to the
genus of siskins. A closely related species, the hoary redpoll (A.hornemanni),
is equal in size, but distinguished in color by the conspicuously white
rump and the brighter upper and underside.Some ornithologists see the
hoary redpoll as subspecies of flammea. Broader subspecies's are: A. f.
cabaret, also called alpine redpoll (British islands and Alps), A. rostrata
p., (Greenland). The nominate form has bright red coloration on the forehead
and a black chin. The male shows bright red at the chest too, otherwise
greyish brown. The female has only weak red trace, if at all, on the chest.
The Alpine redpoll is smaller and browner.
In England, northern and middle Scandinavia as well in the Alps, theredpoll
is a migratory bird. He is a winter guest also in almost all of Europe
with the exception of Spain, Portugal, parts of France, southern Italy
and southern Greece. Birches and alder must be available in his habitat.
His cousin, the common siskin, was imported into New Zealand during the
last century. There are now large populations of the bird living there.
They inflict great damage in fruit orchards, where they consume the buds
of trees. Like his cousin the common siskin, the redpoll is a good climber.
He consumes buds, young shoots, seeds of alders, birches and various weeds.
In summer, particularily when raising young, he feeds on insects. His
song, often performed during flight, is a pleasant twittering. Pleasant
trills are often woven into the high pitched and metallic flight call.
The song is overall somewhat tinny and rough.
Length: 12 cm -- 15 cm depending
on subspecies, weight 14 g . male:
back of the head, neck, cheek and back are gray-brown with dark brown
striping. Rump reddish, forehead and chin black, with creamy white striping
above the eyes. The top of the head is bright red. Throat, chest and sides
are pinkish red. Flank streaky-black, abdomen white, wings and tail darkbrown,
2 wing bars brown; Female and male in the first year of life are without
the pink underside and rump, otherwise are colored like the male Fledgling
without white rump, back of the head, and undersideand without black mask,
otherwise similar to the female. To
protect against the harsh climate of his native country the redpoll builds
a solid, warm upholstered nest. Depending on tree population it can either
be attached as high as a man, lower or even on the ground in the undergrowth.
The four to five eggs whichare, geenish blue, with reddish tinge and spots
(18 x 12 mm) are laid only in May and hatch in two weeks. If the youngsters
are fully feathered, they look similar to the female, only the red badges
are still missing. A single brooding per year, per pair is possible in
short nordic summer. If food gets scarce in the redpoll biotopes in winter,
sometimes the birds come in large numbers. In the meantime, the redpoll
has so seldom been seen in the Germany, that that it had to be taken from
the "potentially endangered" list, onto the "red list".
Tending and keeping:
Redpolls like to build their
nest on a "nesting block" (Sabelscher Nistklotz) or emperor-nests
with evergreen jewelry. They use flax fibers to build it. Redpolls are
beyond all doubt, the easiest wild birds to cultivate .Nest-building starts
after the pairs are formed, mostly in April. They very frequently build
her nests free-standingly but the nesting helps mentioned above are also
accepted. The nest is built by the female, the male participates from
time to time, too. The nest usually contains five eggs. Incubation takes
12days, and is done soley by the female. The youngsters leave the nest
after 14 days. During the hatching of the eggs the female, like all other
finches, is very carefully fed by the male. After the hatch, the female
passes the food brought by the male on to the chicks. The male feeds the
chicks as well. Unlike the literature I can confirm that the redpoll often
makes to 2, rarely even 3 broods per year. The diet of this species is
very similar to the goldfinch and common siskin, therefore I do not repeat
Arctic & Hoary redpoll
Carduelis hornemanni / exipilis
The mealy redpoll is a small finch. It is larger and paler than the very similar lesser redpoll. It is streaky brown above and whitish below with black streaks. It shows two white lines on the folded wing. It does not breed in the UK, but is a passage migrant and winter visitor, particularly to the east coast.
Where does it live?
Inland spruce forests
Areas with birch, alder and spruce trees
Where to see it
There is a possibility of seeing this species on the east coast of Britain in the autumn or winter. Birds then move west in search of food, so can turn up in suitable habitat inland.
What does it eat?
Small seeds from birch, alder and spruce, and insects.
What does it sound like?
Its call is a trilling ‘tji-tji-tji’.
When to see it
October to April.