Monday, March 08, 2010

Unexpected Garden Visitors

The picture above was taken a couple of weeks ago on the 21st February, and it shows two Redpolls on my Niger seed feeder. These birds are members of the finch family and have been split into three species - Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret, Common or Mealy Redpoll Carduelis flammea and finally Artic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni. This is somewhat confusing as the Common is rarer than the Lesser in this country.

So which species is it in the picture? The Lesser does breed in this country but is more of a winter visitor to Southern England. The Common does not breed here but is a winter visitor, particularly to the East coast. The Artic is extremely rare in this country and can be ruled out.
The Lesser is smaller than the Common which is not much help here! The Lesser has two distinct pale wing bars and has buffier undertail-coverts than the Common. The Common is altogether paler than the Lesser with less buff wash on the flanks and breast, and has broader whiter wing bars.

The facing bird above seems to have darker wing bars than the lower bird, but maybe it just light and shadow playing tricks. Could the facing bird be a Lesser and the lower one a Common?

Perhaps readers to this blog could tell me their suggestions.

There is a very comprehensive description of the identification difficulties of these two birds on the Worcestershire bird site -

Meanwhile here is another closer photograph of the Lesser or is it Common Redpoll?

This has provoked quite an interesting discussion on Ispot. Most people seem to go with Lesser Redpolls, however the lower bird could possibly be a Common Redpoll. Have a look at the following: