Friday, January 11, 2013

Snowy Redpolls


The cabin in Lake Shore has been inundated with winter finches: Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks, goldfinches and both Hoary and Common Redpolls (no Evening Grosbeaks, yet!).

The redpolls may be my favorite winter visitors. They're just so gregarious and dapper looking. The ones in these images are the more often-seen Common Redpoll.

During a recent snowfall I had fun snapping these photos through the kitchen window while staying nice and cozy inside.



These beautiful birds are irruptive and in years like this travel in large flocks farther south than normal. While we periodically have them in the Twin Cities, this is only the third winter since I moved here in 2002 that we've had 80+ redpolls at our Afton feeders on a regular basis.

An irruptive winter is not only a thrilling one, but an expensive one (we're going through 40 lbs. of Nyjer a week!). Unfortunately these birds at the cabin aren't quite as lucky - they go days without seed waiting our return for long weekends.

Typically, these birds are found worldwide in the arctic and subarctic boreal forests. In North America, they venture into the Northern United States during the winter and as far south as the Central United States in irruption years.

Because I'm in the process of obtaining my banding license, the recovery of bands fascinates me. On the Cornell Lab site, they listed this cool fact about banded redpolls:

"A few banding records have shown that some Common Redpolls are incredibly wide ranging. Among them, a bird banded in Michigan was recovered in Siberia; others in Alaska have been recovered in the eastern U.S., and a redpoll banded in Belgium was found 2 years later in China."

That's amazing!

Another cool fact that I learned on the Cornell site? They burrow into the snow to stay warm overnight! They've found them in tunnels a foot long.

Want to learn more about these neat winter visitors? Check out Cornell's site.


13 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I'm so excited for you - can't wait to see all the fun you have with your new camera.

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  2. Oh wow ...... these are awesome!!!

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  3. Wow, these are beautiful shots. And I love the Redpolls! Happy Birding!

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    1. They are adorable birds aren't they, Eileen? Hope you have a flock in your neighborhood soon!

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  4. I like their poses and colors!

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  5. Those photos of the redpolls are gorgeous in that winter setting! I saw one yesterday at a park feeder but the photo didn't come out.

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    1. Thanks so much, Larry. Hope the redpolls stick around your area a bit so you can enjoy them, too!

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  7. Great photos! I agree. The Redpolls are entertaining. They don't take any guff from the Pine Grosbeaks or the House Sparrows they feed with here. I love to see the Hoary Redpolls here. We usually get one or two along with usually around 40 Common Redpolls lately. Wish we had the Pine Siskins but they haven't been showing up here this year. It's great to be able to see them right out the window like that and get the nice shots you're sharing.
    I hope you mean 4 pounds of niger a week, not 40! ;) (We pay about $16 for 8 pounds of niger here).

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    1. I always love your photos and blog posts, Scott. And incredibly, no - that wasn't a typo. 40lbs. of Nyjer a week. BIRDS NEED JOBS :-) We have a few Hoarys mixed in w/the regulars at the cabin, but I've not seen any Hoarys at our Afton home yet. Goldfinches are turning yellow though!

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