Friday, March 15, 2013

Range of Redpolls: Pale, copper, scarlet, red northern birds

A recent treat: A large flock of Redpolls, congregating around an auger beside a granary filled with Canola seeds. The Redpolls ranged from well streaked browns with vibrant red chests (Common Redpolls?) to extremely pale birds with only a hint of pink on their chests (Hoary Redpolls?), with several copper-capped birds (immature?) and one that was very mottled and dark (juvenile?).

Yes, lots of questions, re: identification, because these small northern birds are tricky. Apparently, the very light birds may summer on Arctic tundra, while the darker, brighter birds come south in winter from the Boreal forests. Makes sense, so far as camouflage, I guess, if that's all there was to it... Whatever the background, the range of colouring was lovely to see.

So on with the Redpoll show. First, a potential Hoary Redpoll, marked with a hint of pink on its chest.

Very pale Redpoll - perhaps Hoary, from its absence of streaking on chest and underside. Almost imperceptible chest markings.  photo  © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Very pale male Redpoll - perhaps Hoary, from its absence of streaking on chest and underside.
Almost imperceptible pink chest markings.   © SB

Next, because they were such a treat, a juvenile/immature redpoll — brown-streaked, with beige/gray feathers and a copper cap on its head, along with an orange-scarlet bird. 


Very brown, very shy bird. A juvenile? photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Very brown, very shy bird. A juvenile? © SB
A Redpoll with a scarlet/orange cap and breast markings. photo © Shelley Banks
A male Redpoll with a scarlet/orange cap and breast markings. © SB
And finally, a few of these lovely northern birds that look more like classic Common Redpolls:

A Redpoll so bright, it looks like it was dipped in raspberry juice.  (At right, another immature copper-headed redpoll.) photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
A male Redpoll so bright, it looks like it was dipped in raspberry juice; with female.
(At right, another immature copper-headed redpoll?) 
© SB
The auger and grain bins, on a winter white day photo © Shelley Banks
The auger and grain bins, on a white winter day.© SB 

What are these? Redpolls — Common Redpolls, with perhaps Hoary Redpolls, juvenile Redpolls and immature Redpolls. (The ones with red chest markings are male.)   
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada. 
Photo dates: February 18 to 21, 2013. 

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