Species of the Week: The Common Redpoll

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), a small, white, brown and red finch that commonly travels in large flocks. In fact, their flocks can be as large as a few hundred. They’ll often be found in areas with lots of food in the winter – such as this weed field – but will also come to feeders and spend time in open woodlands. We generally only see this beautiful bird in the winter, as their breeding range is further north and they only come this far south when they need food in the off-season. As such, their presence here is somewhat unpredictable, as they go wherever there is enough food and so may appear in flocks of hundreds one year and not make an appearance at all the next. This is called an irruption. Apart from seeds, redpolls also eat wildflowers, grasses, sedges, berries, and some insects in the summer. To help them gather food fast, Common Redpolls have an extendible throat pouch that they can fill with food to eat later, which is especially helpful in wintertime. They’re very social and acrobatic little birds and are super fun to watch as they feed on seeds and fly around together. If you’d like to entice some to your feeders, try putting out Nyjer or sunflower seeds. Have you ever seen this cute little bird?

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