Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hoary Redpoll? Opinions Needed



We did some banding at Carver Park on Saturday and had an explosion of Redpolls. Of the 50 birds we caught, 24 were Common Redpolls and one appears to be a Hoary Redpoll. All of these photos show the bird we believe is a Hoary, in the hand and from different angles. I'm hoping some of you readers might have a comment or two on whether you believe this is a Hoary.



We measured the bill and it did fall in the range of measurements for Hoary Redpoll.




The overall lightness of the bird set it apart from all the others we were banding.




The rump, while light and faintly streaked still did show some streaking.



The undertail coverts were very white wih some of the longer ones showing just a hint of a faint streak.



Taking into consideration all the characteristics we saw, we did call this a Hoary Redpoll. If anyone has any insights that will help confirm or deny this ID please let me know.

No matter what, it was a pretty cool day when the banders got to handle so many visitors from up north. Now if we could only get a net into a spruce tree so I can get my hands on a White-winged Crossbill....

10 comments:

GoWildMarie said...

Sorry, MB, I'm not an expert, either, just wanted to say how beautiful the photos were and how fortunate you and the others were who are able to actually handle these beautiful birds. I enjoyed seeing your post and marveling at their beauty. Thanks for sharing.

Rick said...

It does not look a white (Hoary) as the ones on my feeders but, Sibley says the tail coverts tell the "tail". It would really be interesting to see genetic data on this subject,i.e. Common VS Hoary

Lynne said...

I have VERY limited experience with Hoary Redpolls, but from what I saw from a weekend in the Bog, this one looks streakier than the the ones that were pointed out to me.

It's really nice to be able to enlarge these photos for a super close-up look.

Kirk Mona said...

I'm not an expert but the bill measurement and the very faintly streaked undertail coverts seems pretty diagnostic. Did you feel that the rear scapulars were more frosty than the other birds you were seeing?

MaineBirder said...

Nice photos!

From your descriptions and the photos, I would say Hoary.

Quite a few have been seen this winter in Maine, including one that I called a Hoary that visited with the Commons that came to our feeders.

Anonymous said...

Great photos but living in FL either bird would be a lifer for me so I am of no help. Hope you will post a concensus when you get one.

Richard said...

My guess is it is NOT a Hoary. I have a flock of a couple of hundred Redpolls that I scan every day for the Hoary and have quite a few light colored ones like you have.

Minnesota Birdnerd said...

OK, so far the opinions here and by e-mail are split with 6 folks going with Hoary and 4 going with Common. The one note I got was from Bill in Madison. WI who did his doctoral thesis on Alaska Redpolls and he voted Hoary based on the smaller "poll" on this birds crown. It's interesting how even a bird in the hand can be so problematic.

MarkN said...

My goodness, you're going to get me in trouble, aren't you (just kidding)? First the Orchard vs. Hooded Oriole last year and now the Hoary vs. Common Redpoll! The keys for me were the extremely short bill (nares to tip < 6 millimeters), the very smudgy streaking on the sides and the very light undertail coverts (not necessarily totally white, as per Pyle Volume I). The bird we caught earlier in the session that we debated about would have made a good comparison photo!

Reid Barclay said...

I would go with a Hoary on this one. When I see a paler looking Redpoll I try to get a look at the face to see if the black around the bill reaches the red 'poll'. I've found that on a lot of Hoaries it doesn't. It may be a seasonal or age/sex difference also, but along with the smaller bill and the generally 'frostier' look, it helps with the darker subspecies to tell them apart from 'Commons'.
Hope this helps.