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Hoary Redpoll

Acanthis hornemanni ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: FRINGILLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small pale bird of the high Arctic, the Hoary Redpoll is a rare winter visitor to southern Canada and the northern United States. During redpoll invasions, a few paler Hoary Redpolls can sometimes be spotted within flocks of Common Redpolls.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.7–5.5 in
12–14 cm
Weight
0.4–0.7 oz
11–20 g
Other Names
  • Arctic Redpoll (English)
  • Sizerin blanchâtre (French)
  • Pardillo ártico (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Two subspecies of Hoary Redpoll are recognized: the southern (C. h. exilpes) and the Greenland (C. h. hornemanni) forms. The southern form breeds across Canada, Alaska, and Eurasia, and is slightly darker and sleeker. The Greenland form breeds only in the very high Arctic of Greenland and neighboring Canada, and is very pale with a large white rump.
  • The Hoary Redpoll will breed in open tundra, but usually in small willows and other shrubs in sheltered areas. When suitable nest sites are unavailable, it has been known to nest in cavities in driftwood.
  • The Hoary Redpoll has very fluffy body feathers that help it stay warm in extremely cold temperatures. In addition, it has feathers on areas of its body that are bare in most other birds. If temperatures get too high, a redpoll may pluck out some of its body feathers and get rid of some of its insulation. These feathers will grow back in a few days, but by then in the high arctic environment, temperatures probably will have dropped back to normal.

Habitat


Scrub

Breeds in open subarctic coniferous forest and scrub, and sheltered riparian areas on tundra. Winters in open woodland and scrub, weedy fields, and suburban and urban areas.

Food


Seeds

Very small seeds, such as birch, willow, alder, grasses, and weeds. Also arthropods in summer.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Egg Description
Pale green to pale blue, with dark spots and speckles at large end.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and with little down.
Nest Description

An open cup of grasses, plant fluff, twigs, rootlets, hair and feathers. Lined with thick layer of feathers or plant fiber. Placed low in small tree or shrub.

Nest Placement

Shrub

Behavior


Foliage Gleaner

Feeds on small branches, often hanging upside down. Uses feet to hold food items. Will visit bird feeders, especially thistle feeders.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Because of its remote breeding and wintering areas, no information is available on population numbers or trends.

Credits

  • Knox, A. G., and P. E. Lowther 2000. Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni). In The Birds of North America, No. 544 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Hoary Redpoll Range Map
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