• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Common Redpoll - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Northern Redpoll)
Adult male A. f. flammea
Photo © by Doug Lloyd
Wasilla, Alaska, 4 January 2004
Acanthis flammea

Carduelis flammea


Adult female A. f. flammea
Photo © by wonderview
Nova Scotia, Canada, 26 February 2015

11.5-14 cm (4½-5½ in)

  • Streaky finch with pale feather edges
  • Red forehead and crown
  • Black lores and chin
  • Dark eye line
  • Pale supercilium
  • Cheeks darker gray than the rest of the head and nape
  • Two wing bars
  • Grey flight and tail feathers with buff-colored edges
  • Pale rump streaked with gray
  • Whitish breast, flanks, and belly
  • Variable amount of streaking on the breast and flanks
  • Males have a variable amount of rose wash across the upper breast that is absent in females
  • Sharply pointed yellow bill with a black tip and culmen


  • Similar to adult but lacks red
  • Buff wing bars
Juvenile A. f. islandica
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Akureyri, Iceland, 26 July 2018

Similar Species

Hoary Redpoll is larger and paler with shorter, thicker bill and usually more extensive thigh feathering. Undertail coverts usually unstreaked. Lesser Redpoll smaller, darker and more heavily streaked. Some individuals not safely identified.


Breeds in the northern parts of the New and Old Worlds. Winter range extends farther south, but is not very predictable. An irruptive species, this bird can be abundant in places some winters and completely absent in other winters. Birds ringed in Norway have been recovered in China just north of the border of North Korea, about 4000 km away from Troms County.


Subspecies rostrata
Photo © by Doc Duck
Ringve Botanical Garden, Trondheim, Norway, 6 March 2020

Formerly placed in genus Carduelis. Lesser Redpoll formerly included in this species. A. f. islandica considered a synonym of A. f. rostrata by Clement (2018)[3], Gill & Donsker (2018)[7], and Christides et al (2014)[6]. However its validity confirmed by Amouret et al. (2015)[2] and accepted by Clements et al. (2018)[1]. A genetic study by Mason & Taylor (2015)[5] found that phenotypic variation in all Redpolls is a result of RNA expressing plumage differences without actual differences in DNA. They advocate lumping all the Redpolls into a single species[8], but their recommendation has not yet been adopted by major taxonomic authorities.


There are three subspecies:[1]

  • A. f. flammea - Small and dark.
  • Northern Eurasia and northern North America
  • A. f. rostrata - Large and dark
  • Northern Labrador, Baffin Island and southern Greenland; winters to north-eastern North America and British Isles
  • A. f. islandica - Similar to A. f. rostrata but smaller and with paler rump.
  • Iceland


Coniferous and birch woodlands.



The diet includes small seeds.


It builds an open cup nest from twigs, rootlets and grasses, lined with thick layer of feathers or hair. 4-6 greenish white to pale blue, spotted with purple at large end, eggs are laid.


Song usually single or repeated calls in short combinations: especially chatter and rattle calls che, che, che, tschrrrr, repeated. Common Redpoll voice clip


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Amouret, J., Steinauer, K., Hallgrimsson, G.T. & Pálsson, S. (2015) Evolutionary status of Icelandic Redpolls Carduelis flammea islandica (Aves, Passeriformes, Fringillidae). J. Orn. 156(4): 1035–1048. https://doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2015.1125850
  3. Clement, P. (2018). Redpoll (Acanthis flammea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61363 on 10 September 2018).
  4. Knox, A. G. and P. E. Lowther (2000). Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.543
  5. Mason, N.A. & Taylor, S.A. (2015) Differentially expressed genes match bill morphology and plumage despite largely undifferentiated genomes in a Holarctic songbird. Mol. Ecol. 24(12): 3009–3025.
  6. Christidis et al. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed 11 September 2018 from https://www.howardandmoore.org/
  7. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  8. All About Birds

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1