Arctic or Mealy Redpoll

Yes it was one (if you guessed right)

Somewhat cheekily I recently posted a photo (2nd one below) from Varanger in May and asked the question “Arctic or Mealy Redpoll”. Here, then,  the same bird’s details more fully revealed. Not too tricky with good views, but then redpolls don’t always give good views. It was singing (which I also recorded). Being quite a streaky bird it was one I found more interesting. Broad rather long streaks in 2-3 rows well done the flanks sides and more dark grey than fully blackish in tone. For quite a while it faced head on and the one feature I could see with a bit of effort were the undertail coverts. Pure white. That kind of nailed it for me plus quirky elements of the song and the big bullheaded look when it turned side-on. It only turned around at the last-minute, before flying off. You can see the fuller details below. I am thinking probably first summer male– and YES Arctic Redpoll ssp. exilipes, don’t you think? Varanger, Norway 12th May 2011

4 thoughts on “Arctic or Mealy Redpoll

  1. Stephen Menzie

    Hi Martin,
    I’d be inclined to think this bird is likely an adult. Considering the photos were taken in May, the flight/tail feathers seem in extremely good nick; the primaries in particular, with the broad white fringes and broad almost squared-off feather tips. Tertials, too, look adult (though they could have been moulted by a juv during post-juv moult). Compare with these birds, which, to my eyes, look to be 2cy: (February) (June) (June)
    And from the same location and on the same date as the previous photos, this bird that looks to be an adult
    So, can adult males really look like this? Or do females sing?
    As always though I’m happy to be corrected by anyone who knows any better!


    1. Martin Garner

      Hi Stephen

      Thanks very much for this. I had similar thoughts re females/ singing etc. Aging Redpolls I have stumbled over a few times so am a little cautious but I will follow up your links as you may well be right

      Thanks Martin


    Je suis en France, dans la pointe Bretagne, a coté de Quimper
    Pour la première fois de ma vie, j’ai vu cet oiseau dans mon jardin a la mi octobre.
    Ils étaient plusieurs et c’est leurs chants, que je ne connaissais pas non plus qui m’a attiré.
    Je me suis renseignée auprès de la Ligue e Protection des oiseaux qui m’a dit qu’il était très rare d’en rencontrer dans ma région, que ces sizerins devaient être en migration. C’est magnifique

  3. migllesh

    Hi all i just wanted to tell someone i had 3 Arctic Redpoll on my bird feeder yesterday I have never seen this Bird before in my Life I did not take a photo of these birds as i was trying to find them on line .i hope they come to my garden again so i can take some photos now i know how rare they are i live in sheffield


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