Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Cephas/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Carduelis flammea
Perching Birds | Family: Finches, Fringillidae

An estimated 47% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

These are lively birds, extremely social and constantly moving; even when resting at night members of the flock fidget and twitter. A stand of winter weeds visited by a flock is a scene of feverish activity as they tear dried flower stalks apart and rush to the ground to pick up the seeds. During the long Arctic night, redpolls sleep in snow tunnels to keep warm. They are able to hang upside down-like chickadees-and pry the birch seed from hanging catkins. They are somewhat nomadic; where the birch supply is good they settle in numbers, but may move away with their fledglings and attempt a second brood elsewhere if they find another area with ample food supply.

Description

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Pale, brown-streaked, with bright red cap and black chin. Male has pink breast.

Voice

Twittering trill; call a soft rattle.

Nesting

4-6 pale green eggs, spotted with red-brown, in a well-made cup of grass, moss, and twigs lined with plant down and placed in a low willow or birch.

Habitat

Tundra and dwarf arctic birch in summer; brushy pastures, open thickets, and weedy fields in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska and northern Quebec south to British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Magdalen Islands. Winters irregularly south to California, Oklahoma, and Carolinas. Also in Eurasia.