Everywhere a common redpoll. My yard has been full of these appealing little finches for the past couple of months. These small seed eaters aren’t choosy – they like niger seed, black oil sunflowers and sunflower chips. They eat at the feeders or on the ground, but I’ve never seen them at the suet feeder.
Flocks communicate with a constant twittering noise so I can always tell when they’re around. Even with all these busy little red-topped birds in the yard, I haven’t been able to definitively point to one and say “there’s a hoary redpoll.”
They are very chickadee-like in their behaviour, sometimes snatching up seeds in their throat pouches and quickly flying away to a more protected spot before swallowing them. Often feeding upside down, they can also use their feet to hold food. They are extremely quick birds, so taking a good photograph is not always easy.
Weighing just 19 grams, or about 2/3 of an ounce, it’s incredible to think these tiny birds are year round residents in Canada. In a few months, they’ll be winging their way north to the subarctic coniferous forest and scrub for the breeding season. In the meantime, I’ll just keep taking pictures and looking for hoary redpolls, which are larger, frostier, with smaller bill and less streaking. Or so I’m told.