My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Common Redpoll, Acanthis flammea

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Common Redpoll, Acanthis flammea

The Common Redpoll is a species in the finch family. It breeds somewhat further south than the Arctic Redpoll, also in habitats with thickets or shrubs. These birds are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures and winter movements are mainly driven by the availability of food. The common redpoll is smaller, browner and more streaked than the Arctic Redpoll.

As energetic as their electric zapping call notes would suggest, Common Redpolls are active foragers that travel in busy flocks. Look for them feeding on catkins in birch trees or visiting feeders in winter. These small finches of the arctic tundra and boreal forest migrate erratically, and they occasionally show up in large numbers as far south as the central U.S. During such irruption years, redpolls often congregate at bird feeders.

Common Redpolls can survive temperatures of –65 degrees Fahrenheit. A study in Alaska found Redpolls put on about 31 percent more plumage by weight in November than they did in July. During winter, some Common Redpolls tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. Tunnels may be more than a foot long and 4 inches under the insulating snow.

Some studies show that in winter redpolls subsist almost entirely on a diet of birch seeds. They eat up to 42 percent of their body mass every day. They can store up to about 2 grams (0.07 oz.) of seeds in a stretchy part of their esophagus, enough for about a quarter of their daily energy requirement.

A few banding records have shown that some Common Redpolls are incredibly wide ranging. Among them, a bird banded in Michigan was recovered in Siberia; others in Alaska have been recovered in the eastern U.S., and a redpoll banded in Belgium was found 2 years later in China.

On to my photos, and for the time being, I have only two shots of a male:

Male common redpoll

Male common redpoll

Male common redpoll

Male common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

This is number 73 in my photo life list, only 277 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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11 responses

  1. Wow! You’ll be hitting triple digits before you know it.

    April 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    • Thanks, I just want to hit 88, that’s 1/4 of the way through.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm

  2. Any bird smart enough to tunnel into the snow to stay warm gets my vote!

    April 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    • Thanks, ruffed grouse do the same thing, scare the crap out of you when you almost step on one and it comes busting out of the snow!

      April 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  3. We had one in our garden today by coincidence.

    April 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    • I hope that you got better photos than I did.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      • Not really. It didn’t stop long at all.

        April 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm

  4. Awesome! I like this bird – he’s a toughie! I’m really going to look at birds differently now…and try my hand at capturing some images as well…

    April 3, 2013 at 9:46 am

    • Thank you! I wish you well on your endeavor!

      April 3, 2013 at 11:40 am

  5. OH My goodness ! You are so lucky to get so close to these little guys. Love your photos of them.

    April 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    • Thanks, there was a large flock of them that I was trying to get photos of for a month. I got those two photos and some one walked by and scared the flock off. I went back there every weekend for a month, and never saw the flock again. I guess I’ll have to wait for next winter for more.

      April 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm