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Common Redpoll

Acanthis flammea ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: FRINGILLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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 (particularly thistle or nyjer seed), allowing delightfully close looks.

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Songs

Redpoll songs are mainly a combination of their call notes given in a long string, lasting up to half a minute.

Calls

Common Redpolls form vocal, chattering flocks characterized by three main calls: a chatter of several sharp, zapping notes; a nasal, rising whistle lasting nearly half a second, and a rattle or trill that lasts nearly a second.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

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.

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