My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

A Common Redpoll Arrives!

Published December 11, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Common Redpoll, Rough-legged Hawk, American Tree Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch

I was very lucky today to get invited to see a Common Redpoll at my friend, Celeste's house.  The female redpoll been coming since late yesterday afternoon and I've been anxious to see one again (the last time was at the end of the 2012-2013 winter). We've tried to find a redpoll a few times recently, so it was quite exciting when one showed up at her feeders! So - in spite of the traffic reports, I took the snowy drive up there to see this special visitor. Being an irruptive species, we just never know when we're going to get the opportunity to see one of these winter finches in WNY - so I felt it was worth the risk!

It didn't take very long for the little gal to appear after my arrival had scattered the flock of songbirds that she was hanging with. Soon, she and the House Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, 2 Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Juncos, Cardinals, House Finches, and Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers were back at Celeste's abundant feeders where there was a great assortment of food choices. Celeste pointed out that the redpoll seemed to prefer feeding on the ground under the nyger thistle feeders and indeed, that's where the redpoll spent most of its time. Her comical way of "hopping" around on the ground was quite amusing to us as she foraged among the other songbirds.

We birders really love the irruptive years (years when northern species come southward in search of food) because it gives us a chance to see these winter birds. The Common Redpoll is usually found in Alaska and northern Quebec and, occasionally, makes it as far south as Oklahoma and to the Carolinas during the irruptive years.

Other irruptive species are: Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Purple Finches, Bohemian Waxwings, and the Great Gray and Snowy Owl.  Between the different species, there are different factors involved with these northern birds come south, but it's usually closely related to food availability.  You can find out what's expected for this winter by reading Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast on Jean Iron's blog here:  Winter Finch Forecast 2013-2014.

I'm hoping the fact that this redpoll is at Celeste's feeders is an indication that we'll see more Common Redpolls very soon.  There have already been a handful of sightings around the state, so watch your feeders!  They like nyger thistle seed, by the way, which other finches like too.

On the drive to Celeste's, I saw a female, light phase Rough-legged Hawk. I had my short lens on and didn't get a great photo of her, but I posted the two I got anyway.  That was a real treat to see that bird too!
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll
bird photo
Common Redpoll - caught mid-hop
bird photo
Female (light phase) Rough-legged Hawk
bird photo
Rough-legged Hawk
bird photo
Pine Siskin at the feeders
bird photo
Pine Siskin
bird photo
American Tree Sparrow
bird photo
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Reply from: Gail Benedetti on 1/1/2015 1:17 PM
 Sue, thanks to your wonderful blog,I was able to recognize & enjoy a Common Redpoll who has been visiting my feeder for the last 3 days. Thanks again for helping a fairly new birder enjoy the wonders of birding!!
Reply from: Sue on 1/1/2015 6:58 PM
 That's wonderful, Gail - I hope he stays a lot of the winter and brings some friends! Then send them over my way for awhile - I'm still waiting! :)