Hoary or Arctic Redpoll

@ Jay McGowan

Hoary/Arctic Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni Holboell (1843)

Appearance: Frosty birds with frosty white backs.  Small red forehead patch, black feathering around a yellow bill, and two white wingbars. Reduced streaking on flanks and undertail coverts. Males have a pale pink vest on the chest. Variation is great across the subspecies.

Irruptions Winter 2020-2021: After several years of small to no irruptions of Common Redpolls in the northeast, it looks like we’re in for at least a modest flight into the Northeast and probably Great Lakes states. With at least modest numbers of Common Redpolls around, there should be a few Hoaries coming with them. Bring on the redpolls!

Natural History: Are regularly found in the boreal and taiga regions at the very northern edge of where Common/Mealy Redpolls are found in Canada; occasionally is found southward into northern half of the United States in irruption years.
Hoary/Arctic Redpolls in Europe are regularly found in N Europe and on Greenland; occasionally found southward into Central Europe in irruption years.

Hoary/Arctic Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni exilipes
-> N Europe, Alaska and NW Canada
Hoary/Arctic Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni hornemanni
-> NE Canada and Greenland

Object of study: Plumage characteristics and vocalizations in relation to taxonomy

Flight call: A clipped and dry che or chit, given singly or more usually as 2 or 3 calls, or even longer series of chee-chee-chee or chit-chit-chit. Resembles chyet-chyet or chet-chet of White-winged Crossbill, but is dryer and softer as if coming from a smaller bird. Some calls similar to Pine Siskin but without the raspy or throaty quality.

Food sources: Likes to eat small seeds of trees and shrubs, especially birch, willow, alder, spruce, and various grasses, sedges and weed seeds. It will visit nyjer or sunflower seed feeders of all shapes and forms including nyjer seed socks.

Irruptions: – Irrupts in very small numbers in years that Common Redpolls irrupt in large numbers.

For more on Hoary/Artic Redpolls see here:

FiRN Needs: Sound recordings from the entire distribution are would be appreciated.

email Matt