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Hoary Redpoll


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
4.7–5.5 in
12–14 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Hoary Redpoll was at least 6 years, 9 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Alaska.



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.



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


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



Foliage Gleaner

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


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on Hoary Redpoll population numbers and trends because of its remote breeding and wintering areas. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 30 million, with 17% wintering in the U.S., and 48% spending at least part of the year in Canada. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. It is a U.S-Canada Stewardship species. Hoary Redpoll is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List.


Range Map Help

Hoary Redpoll Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Backyard Tips

This species often comes to bird feeders. 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.

You Might Also Like

The Redpolls are Coming! The Redpolls are Coming! (And Siskins, Too), All About Birds blog, February 3, 2015.



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