Hoary Redpoll

January 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

When a flock of Common Redpolls visit your backyard, watch for individuals that stand out as exceptionally white, fluffier and have a stubbier bill. These may be Hoary Redpolls. The Hoary Redpoll is the less common of the two Redpoll species to visit our feeders. While they look very similar to the Common Redpoll and often share the same breeding grounds, the Hoary Redpoll does not inter-breed with them. Redpolls are birds of the high Arctic and are a member of the Finch family. They breed in the open tundra and prefer low scrubby trees where they build a nest of twigs, plant fluff , grasses and hair, lined with a thick layer of feathers or plant fibers. Lays 4-6 eggs and may produce 1-2 broods during May and June. 

Cool Fact (credit: allaboutbirds.org)

  • The Hoary Redpoll has very fluffy body feathers that help it stay warm in extremely cold temperatures. In addition, it has feathers on areas of its body that are bare in most other birds. If temperatures get too high, a redpoll may pluck out some of its body feathers and get rid of some of its insulation. These feathers will grow back in a few days, but by then in the high arctic environment, temperatures probably will have dropped back to normal.

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