On January 3rd while checking over a large flock of 150+ redpolls at our feeder Ben spotted a Greater Common Redpoll feeding on the ground with other Southern Common Redpolls and a Southern Hoary Redpoll. The redpoll was easy to pick out due to its noticeably larger size and darker plumage, (see photo #1 and #2) but the Southern Hoary Redpoll disappeared. In typical fashion these highly flighty, nervous birds keep moving but I finally got to see it. I kept searching through the ever changing flock making comparisons and found a large pale redpoll at the niger feeder. Close examination revealed a Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll. (see photo# 3) The large size, paler plumage, smaller bill and white rump clinched it. I managed to get a couple of photos in direct comparison to a Southern Common Redpoll. Ben and I watched it and suddenly everything took off and it didn't return. Over the following days very few redpolls fed at the feeder until January 8th when I observed another Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll at the niger feeder. Again excellent comparisons with Southern Common Redpoll showing larger size, small bill, over-all pale, clean white rump and under tail converts. Unfortunately the redpolls spooked before I could get a photo. Redpoll watching can be fun. If you have lots of time and patience, carefully scrutinize all your redpolls. You will be amazed at what you can find!
Good birding, Bruce
The Greater Common Redpoll is a rare visitor to feeders during the winter months.
Its larger size, darker plumage and heavier streaking separates it from the very common Southern Common Redpoll.
A immature female Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll feeding with Southern Common Redpolls. Note larger size, paler plumage, and not in photo, white rump and plain white under-tail covert.