SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: COMMON REDPOLL

Common Redpoll

 

My father and I arrived at our first destination in northern Minnesota on a cold but sunny morning in mid February. Stopping in a church parking lot just east of Meadowlands Minnesota, we hopped out of the car to gear up as it was only 1 degree outside. Greeting us as we opened our doors, was a familiar call. The bouncy, cheery call of the Common Redpoll. I breathed in and then deeply sighed, happy to once again be in the great white north, among boreal birds.

 

Common Redpoll

 

We worked our way up country road 29, looking for our lifer Sharp-tailed Grouse. After successfully tallying up that lifer, we moved up the road and onto Owl Avenue towards the Friends of Sax Zim Bog visitor center. The drive was fairly uneventful until we got closer to the visitor center. Nearing the visitor center, the skies lit up with Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Gray Jays, Ravens, and of course Common Redpolls.

 

Common Redpoll

 

 

Common Redpolls are one of my favorite finches, with a highly recognizable and incredibly cute call. They always seem to be cheery for some reason. They’re incredibly active birds, rarely staying in one place for too long. As we parked, I could see a large number of Common Redpolls going back and forth between the feeders and bare tree branches. Dad and I just stood there, taking it all in and watching the ebb and flow of the birds.

 

Common Redpoll

 

Common Redpolls are small birds, just larger than the American Goldfinch, and among other easy ways to ID it, they all have a beautiful bright red cap, thus earning the name “Redpoll”. They breed in the arctic tundra, and often irrupt into northern and sometimes even central states depending on food sources. One really cool fact about these birds, is that they have a pouch in their throats in which they can store seeds and then eat them in a different, safer location if possible.

 

Common Redpoll

 

So the next time you’re travelling in the norther United States in the wintertime, roll down the window every once in awhile and listen for the beautiful, bouncy call it makes. These little guys are fairly common in certain northern areas, mostly in boreal habitat. White (Paper) Birch, Tamarack, and Black Spruce trees are often great places to start looking. They also are no averse to feeders, and will often take advantage of continuous food sources like bird feeders. Fully in the wild, it’s estimated that nearly half of the Common Redpoll’s diet consists of White Birch seeds in the winter months. I hope you all get to see this lively, comical little finch, and enjoy the experience as much as I have. Until next time, good birding!

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