At the Hilda Road feeders in Shirleys Bay a handful of Common Redpolls were joined on occasion by one of two lighter colored redpolls. Notice on the Common Redpoll below that it is overall dark with heavy streaks on the flank. The bill is elongated and though we can not see it in this picture the rump and undertail coverts are likley to be streaked.
In a nutshell Hoary Redpoll’s are supposed to be frostier, have a white rump, white undertail coverts and a smaller bill. Easy you say, but not really! There really is so much overlap between Hoary and Common Redpoll that some ornithologists feel that it is just normal variation of one species. This makes those that fall in between, including females, that much harder to identify.
Over the course of the weekend we did see several frosty colored birds, but it was only this one (above) that we thought fit the (smaller) bill! Overall it does look very much whiter, including the head and scapulars, though still not as frosty as some can be. Notice that the frosty head does offset the neat small red fore-crown. We did get to see the rump and noticed that there was no marking on it and the view we see here shows no undertail streaks.
all photos © adrian binns