Hoary Redpoll

Carduelis hornemanni

Both Hoary and Common Redpolls are infrequent breeders on the Pribilof Islands. Hoary Redpoll is seemingly more common in some years, and in others Common Redpoll dominates. Neither species is annual in the Pribilofs. Nests have been located in the crab pots and in bases of large Nootka Lupine plants out in the tundra. Hoary Redpolls were confirmed breeding in 2001 and 2004. Common Redpolls bred on the island in 2002 and 2003. In spring and in fall both species are often found together, in places such as Kamanista, the road to Marunich, Hutchinson Hill and the low sandy swales in Novastoshnya. The separation of these two variable and quite similar forms can be tricky, especially given redpolls propensity for making a rapid escape. Given sustained views the most consistent feature that can be used to identify redpolls is their bill size and shape. Hoary Redpolls have small bills, that barely extend past the feathering on their cheeks. This gives them a very flat faced appearance, almost like a small feathered pug. Common Redpolls have longer bills, that extend well past the feathering of their cheeks. Hoary Redpoll males tend to have small red caps, and a light pinkish suffusion to their upper breast. In addition, they should show frosty tones to the feathers on their backs, a clear white rump, and an unmarked (or nearly so) undertail and flank. When redpolls are present on the island they often linger in a small area for an extended period of time offering multiple opportunities for closer inspection.