Common Redpoll

Acanthis flammea
A Common Redpoll specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

The Common Redpoll is one of a few cold-weather finch species in North America. This finch is about 5 inches long with a plump body, notched tail, and thick bill. Males and females are streaked brown and tan above, and both have a red forehead and black throat. The male’s breast is washed with pink, while the female’s is off-white. Despite its name, the Common Redpoll is common only in the northernmost parts of North America and Eurasia. In North America, this species breeds in Alaska and high arctic Canada, and winters in southern Canada and the northern tier of the United States. In Eurasia, this species breeds in Scandinavia and Russia, wintering south to central Europe and China. Although among the most common species of songbird on its breeding grounds, quite a few birdwatchers never venture far enough north to see it. Common Redpolls inhabit open areas of tundra, sparse evergreen forest, and scrub. They mainly eat seeds, but will also catch insects when available in summer. In some years, large numbers of Redpolls will move south into the U.S. during winter as a response to an insufficient seed crop. They are most active during the day. These finches are best observed foraging for food, when they may be found feeding high in trees, atop small bushes, or on the ground. Redpolls are acrobatic while feeding, often perching precariously on the ends of branches and hanging down to reach seeds or cones.

DC Information

Accidental winter visitor from the north. Recorded here chiefly from mid-January to the end of February. Found in flocks in abandoned fields and hedgerows. The male has a rosier breast than the female.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC67142 Carduelis flammea (Common Redpoll)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC25622 Carduelis flammea (Common Redpoll)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC64630 Carduelis flammea (Common Redpoll)