The Common Redpoll of the Pacific Northwest
The Common Redpoll is a fairly small bird that is usually found in open subarctic coniferous forest and scrub during the breeding season. In winter it favors open forest, overgrown fields and urban areas.
It generally avoids deep forest areas and migrates in an irregular pattern, migrating only every few years during the winter months, possible because food is scarce in their normal wintering grounds.
Although they usually winter in lower parts of Canada, they been known to travel as far away as Europe and Asia. Some years they can be seen all over the south coast.
This little bird is up to 14 cm in length and has a wingspan of up to 22 cm. They weigh only about 20 grams and have highly variable plumage characteristics. Generally speaking, the common redpoll is a small finch with a small, conical shaped yellow bill. It has a black chin, red forehead. Males may have a pink to deep rose wash across their chest. Females do not have this pink coloration. I think they are beautiful with their red foreheads, yellow beaks and Charlie Chaplin mustache.
The common redpoll feeds on a variety of small seeds such as birch, willow, alder, grasses and weeds. They generally feed on small branches, using their feet to hold the food down while they pick it off with their beaks. They also have food pouches which they can use to temporarily store seeds, allowing them to gorge themselves quickly before they fly away to a safer spot to enjoy their food at leisure. The common redpoll has also been known to frequent bird feeders. During the winters they are here, they certainly visit ours on a regular basis.
Their nests are made of fine twigs, rootlets and grasses which they weave together into a cup like shape. They may use feathers or animal hair to line the nest which is usually found in a small tree or shrub. The female may lay up to 6 spotted eggs that hatch a few weeks later. Once they have lost their down feathers, the immature Common Redpoll resembles the adult birds.