Hoary Redpoll on the lower left

Hoary Redpoll on the lower left

This winter has featured one of the most spectacular invasions of Common Redpolls in recent memory. They seem to be readily found anywhere in Addison County, giving justification to the “common” in their name. However there is still something less common to be on the lookout for in these flocks, the Common Redpoll’s cousin, the Hoary Redpoll. I recently received a call from Gary Starr telling me that he had Hoary regularly visiting his feeders at his home in Weybridge, and inviting me to come down to look at it. When I arrived, it only took a few minutes before the bird appeared, allowing me a great up-close look at it. Gary took some great pictures of it, as did Carol Ramsayer who also stopped by to visit the bird. The things that differentiate Hoary Redpolls from Common Redpolls are a lighter, overall “frostier” coloring, generally unstreaked white rump and undertail coverts, a thicker appearing neck and a stubbier bill.  In addition to this being a Hoary Redpoll, given its obvious larger size compared to the Commons around it, this bird appears to be from the more northern breeding Greenland (Hornemann’s) subspecies, which the Sibley guide says can be up to 12% larger.

– Ron Payne

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