© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Arctic Redpoll

Acanthis hornemanni

  • Latin synonym: Carduelis hornemanni
  • Family: Finches – Fringillidae
  • Appearance: Similar to Redpoll, but paler. Best distinguishing features for identification purposes are an unstreaked pale rump patch, uniformly pale vent, very small beak, and generally paler appearance than Redpoll.
  • Size: Length 12–14 cm, weight 12–16 g.
  • Nest: In a tree or shrub, usually very low down. Made carefully with an outer layer of twigs; a middle layer of lichen, juniper bark fragments, thin root fibre etc; and lining of willow buds, reindeer hair and feathers.
  • Breeding: 3–7 eggs laid May–July, incubated by female for 10–12 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 12–13 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in tundra regions and in mountain birch stands. Finnish population estimated at 2,000–10,000 pairs. Numbers probably vary considerably from year to year. Seen regularly at bird tables.
  • Migration: Partially migratory, with irregular roaming and migration patterns. Autumn movements mostly in November, spring migration March–April. Some birds winter in Finnish Lapland, but the species can also regularly be seen in Southern Finland, though does not migrate as far south as Redpoll.
  • Diet: Seeds of various plants, in winter particularly alder and birch seeds.
  • Calls: Very similar to Redpoll (can only be distinguished by experts). Flight call ”ju-jup”, also a rising call “chay-ee” to attract attention. Song consists of repeated rising calls and whirring sounds.

Arctic Redpolls are generally paler than Redpolls. Their backs are grey with hardly any dark brown streaking. They are less streaked overall than Redpolls, especially on the flanks and the rump, which has a small sugar-cube-sized unstreaked area. Their vents are also almost uniform (with absent or only very narrow streak made by feather stems). Arctic Redpolls have black bibs, red forehead patches and two pale stripes on each wing. Males may also have varying degrees of red colouring on their chests and rump. Some individuals have very white underparts with hardly any streaking. Arctic Redpolls have dark brown legs, small dark-tipped yellow beaks, and dark brown irises.

Some individuals, especially juveniles, are very difficult to distinguish in the field. This problem is made worse by the existence of Redpoll–Arctic Redpoll hybrids.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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