Redpolls on Corvo, Azores

So What Kind are They?

Thanks to Richard Bonser we have some redolls to identify.

Photographed on Corvo a week ago (27th/28th October 2015) – a change from the hoped for super rare American Vagrants. It provides a good chance to use the ‘Redpoll Code’. Redpolls on Corvo, Azores could have come from anywhere and potentially be any taxon.


Are they identifiable?

Richard B. has done an excellent job summarising his experience of watching the birds. I agree with his conclusions (see below).

“As promised here are the photos of the redpolls from the Azores

You don’t necessarily go to Corvo to look at redpolls! But this is what happened earlier this week – I found one in the pouring rains in the higher fields on Tuesday and then two the next day in fields near the airport. All were of similar ilk; fairly streaky things set on a pale background colour. Not small and cute like Lessers, and not massive either – I remember seeing a Greenland Redpoll on Scilly a few years ago and being struck by its bulk (and darkness). These Corvo guys weren’t obvious like that – ‘standard size and bulk’ to my untrained eye. Bill size was pretty average too, and there weren’t the four or five tramlines on the flanks that seems to be the case with most rostrata. Undertail coverts were marked on all birds, but not heavily with a couple of distinct arrowheads on the longer UTCs. Nice furry looking tarsi too!

One of the obvious things I did notice though was the paleness of the rump compared to the mantle and tail – background wise, but the rump was still streaked. This was the case on all three birds but unfortunately, my photographic skills failed me and I was unable to get a full on rump shot when the birds flew…

So what do I think these are? I guess if I was a betting man (which I’m not), and with a few quick searches of ‘Common Redpoll Canada’ then Nearctic flammea would probably be the most plausible? They seem to show the rather heavy flank streaking restricted to three tramlines like these birds, with the base colour of plumage and undertail coverts looking similar too. But I guess there is a significant amount still to be learnt, especially in areas of the Arctic where there are more redpolls than people.

Richard Bonser”


Have a look at the bill on these two.

This is one of the last points in the ‘Redpoll Code”

The upper bird is one the Azores I agree fits flammea-  MEALY The lower bird on Shetland identified as NW/ Greenland Redpoll- rostrata to compare. Check out the thinner, spiker bill on the Mealy/flammea/ Corvo bird and the deeper-baed bill on the Greenland/rostrata/ Shetland-type.

The most likely ID /explanation is Common/ Mealy/ flammea Redpolls based on the features, and on location and timing rom the N. American boreal population (which is no different in appearance from the Old World/ European population.


Above: Mealy Redpoll,  Corvo, Azores, Richard Bonser.


Above, Greenland Redpoll, Shetland, Roger Riddington


Below- all Mealy/ flammea types on Corvo by Richard Bonser



3 thoughts on “Redpolls on Corvo, Azores

  1. martin gray

    Richard’s Corvo bird is an adult female; all fresh after complete summer moult, generous & clear tertial fringes and broad, somewhat rounded tips to rectrices. These would be narrower, more pointed and with some wear in 1CY ( like a steak knife point vs an ordinary cut-up-your-dinner knife tip). Lack of pink anywhere at this age = female, though older females can show a hint of blusher on the cheeks and breast sides


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