Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Hoary Redpoll

Acanthis hornemanni

A very close relative of the Common Redpoll, but adapted to even bleaker conditions, the Hoary Redpoll is only a scarce visitor south of the Arctic. In those winters when large numbers of redpolls invade southward, a few Hoarys are usually mixed into the flocks. On the breeding grounds, this species extends farther north, onto high Arctic islands of Canada. Where the two redpolls overlap, the Hoary tends to nest on more barren upland tundra, where the patches of shrubs are fewer and smaller.
Conservation status Still common and widespread, but like other birds in the high Arctic, may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Family Finches
Habitat Thickets, tundra scrub. In winter, also woodland edges, fields. Breeds in brushy places of far North, especially in low thickets of willow, alder, or dwarf birch on open tundra, sometimes along forest edge. Compared to Common Redpoll, tends to nest in more open or barren habitat. In winter, also found around woodland edges, brushy or weedy fields.
A very close relative of the Common Redpoll, but adapted to even bleaker conditions, the Hoary Redpoll is only a scarce visitor south of the Arctic. In those winters when large numbers of redpolls invade southward, a few Hoarys are usually mixed into the flocks. On the breeding grounds, this species extends farther north, onto high Arctic islands of Canada. Where the two redpolls overlap, the Hoary tends to nest on more barren upland tundra, where the patches of shrubs are fewer and smaller.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature (1st winter)
  • adult male
  • adult female

Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-6, rarely 7. Pale green to blue-green, with reddish brown spots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 9-14 days. Male feeds female on nest during incubation. Young: Probably both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-14 days after hatching.


Young

Probably both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-14 days after hatching.

Diet

FEEDING. Diet and feeding behavior very similar to those of Common Redpoll


Nesting

Does not seem to defend nesting territories; several pairs may nest fairly close together, perhaps because good nesting sites tend to be concentrated in small patches surrounded by tundra. In courtship, male feeds female. Nest: Placed within a few feet of the ground in dense low shrubs, sometimes on the ground. Nest (built by female) is a small open cup of grass and plant down, sometimes with fine twigs, rootlets, leaves, lined with ptarmigan feathers and sometimes animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Many apparently remain near Arctic Circle in winter, others moving south, typically only short distances. Apparently migrates by day, in flocks, sometimes mixed with Common Redpolls.

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Migration

Many apparently remain near Arctic Circle in winter, others moving south, typically only short distances. Apparently migrates by day, in flocks, sometimes mixed with Common Redpolls.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Series of metallic chips given in flight; soft twittering calls when feeding on ground. Calls are sharper than those of Common Redpoll.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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