A Splash of Red


The redpolls are back!  I always look forward to seeing those tiny splashes of red mixed in with the drab olive yellow of the finches.  It seems a bit early — I’ll have to check my journal from last year — but they are very welcome.  The photo is a bit dull because I snapped this in a hurry through window glass. :)

Redpolls are members of the finch family, and get along well at the feeder with their cousins, the gold finches.  According to Wiki:

The Redpolls are a group of small passerine birds in the finch family (Fringillidae) which have characteristic red markings on their heads…

All redpolls are northern breeding woodland species, associated with birch trees. They are small dumpy birds, brown or grey-brown above and with a red forehead patch. The adult male’s breast is washed in red, but in females and young birds the buff breast and white belly are streaked with brown. The bill is small and yellow. Some birds, particularly young ones, are difficult to assign to species.

They are primarily seed-eaters, and often feed acrobatically like a tit; their diet may include some insects in summer. They have a dry reeling song and a metallic call. They lay 4-7 eggs in a nest in a tree or, in the case of Arctic Redpoll, a large bush. They can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with other finches.

I didn’t know they were associated with birch trees, but there are several large stands close by.  Wherever they hang out, they are a welcome diversion “in the bleak mid-winter”.


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

19 thoughts on “A Splash of Red”

  1. Unusual markings on their little heads! I’ve never seen these birds in my area, thanks for sharing your photo and info today. :)

  2. Yes, we have the redpolls too–there are birch trees in the back yard, but they also quite like the niger feeder and suet cake by the rhodie outside my office window. Still haven’t seen the snow buntings, though.

  3. Nancy, One aspect of your blog that I love is having the opportunity to see interesting things unknown to my area such as redpolls. Here in Mississippi we do see a few gold finches now and then but never any redpolls. Thanks for sharing these photos.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  4. I don’t see these at my feeders either?? I’m going to check my bird book and see if they winter in my area or not. I like birds that get along well with others! I’m sure they are lovin’ your sunflower seed. :-)

  5. You lucky dog. I haven’t seen a redpoll in a couple of years. They don’t get down this far south very often. I usually have to go north to see them.

  6. I’ve recently started seeing those guys (or birds that are very similar looking) at the feeder I put out at my office. Come to think of it, the ones I see have red chests and heads, but otherwise look like the regular finches.

  7. Sweet birds, Nancy. That’s one we don’t see down here in VA. It’s nice to see a variety of birds, isn’t it? It does help brighten up winter, almost as nicely as flowers (but not quite:)

    PS My snow post is up, but since today is your last day for adding to your link, I thought it would be unnecessary;( We will still probably get some more snow in Feb. so I’ll probably have a chance to get a few more snowy scenes.

  8. We had a few show up the other day but they haven’t been back, which leads me to my constant question – where do birds hang out when they aren’t at my feeders? :<)

  9. Never seen this bird before.
    So glad you posted !
    Love to see what everyone else is getting in their backyard.
    Hope to see more bird post,

  10. These birds are the first sign of that the light is returning :)
    I had about 40-50 of them here yesterday. It’s great to see them jumping around picking seeds on the snow.


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