Hoary Redpolls live even farther north than Common Redpolls; when you see them, they are likely to be with flocks of Common Redpolls. Hoaries are paler overall than Common Redpolls, with whiter rumps, less dark flank streaking, and even smaller bills. Pine Siskins are darker overall and more heavily streaked, with almost no white visible; they also have longer bills than redpolls. American Goldfinches in winter are more smoothly patterned in brown and yellow tones, with darker wings and bold wingbars. They lack the streaking and the red forehead of Common Redpolls. House Finches, Purple Finches, and Cassin’s Finches are all larger than Common Redpolls, have much heavier bills, and lack bold wingbars; unlike the redpolls’ small patches of red, the males of these finches have red covering the whole crown and chest.
Common Redpolls from Greenland are larger and darker than those breeding in Alaska and Canada.
Common Redpolls eat seeds of a size to match their small bills. They’re particularly likely to come to thistle or nyjer feeders, though they may also take black oil sunflower or scavenge opened seeds left behind by larger-billed birds. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
Find This Bird
Most people in North America get to see Common Redpolls only in the winter, when the birds come to feeders or forage on small seeds in trees or in weedy fields. Listen for their sharp, buzzy call notes and energetic trills and chatters. Keep in mind that they often form fairly large flocks that seem constantly in motion.