At a Glance
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.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Finches, Perching Birds
Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, Freshwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, Eastern Canada, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada
Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats, Undulating
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
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.
4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Very similar to Common Redpoll, hard to identify. Hoary has paler, "frosty" look; male has paler pink on chest; usually unmarked white on rump, flanks, undertail coverts. Bill may look stubbier.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Red, White
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.
Chatter, Chirp/Chip, Trill, Whistle
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.
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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.
Probably both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-14 days after hatching.
FEEDING. Diet and feeding behavior very similar to those of Common Redpoll
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.
Still common and widespread, but like other birds in the high Arctic, may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Hoary Redpoll. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Hoary Redpoll
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.