January 25 , 2008

SUBJECT: Hoary Redpoll vs. Common Redpoll

Recently reported on IBET was a sighting of a Hoary Redpoll at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Hoary Redpolls are only rarely seen in northern Illinois. They usually over-winter in Canada and spend their summers in the Arctic. They are very similar looking to Common Redpolls, so identification can sometimes be tricky.

When I arrived at the Chicago Botanic Gardens on Friday, I made a beeline straight for the Enabling Garden where this bird has been sighted with other Common Redpolls. I arrived there to find Tony and Donna from the Tuesday morning birding group there and we were quickly greeted by the Hoary Redpoll feeding from one of the feeders there at the garden. It stayed in the vicinity for quite a while although it sometimes was lost in the flock of Common Redpolls.

I have photographed Common Redpolls in the past, but the Hoary Redpoll was a new species for me—a "life bird" as a birder would say.

Below are a few photographs of the Hoary Redpoll.

—Alan Stankevitz

The above composite shows the variability in redpolls. All three photographs are of female redpolls. The two on the left are Common Redpolls while the right-most image is a Hoary redpoll. The Hoary Redpoll is paler by comparison to the Common Redpoll.


The back side of the Hoary Redpoll is lighter and has less color than a Common Redpoll.


The Hoary Redpoll has less and lighter streaking on its flanks. On the left side of the feeder is a Common Redpoll. The Hoary Redpoll is much whiter compared to the birds on the left.





Web design © 2008, Alan Stankevitz
All photographs © 2002-2008, Alan Stankevitz

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