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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Common Redpoll

Bird Sightings - lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll

Carduelis flammea cabaret

Gaelic: Deargan-seilich

Photograph © Grahame Thompson
Aiginish - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
December, 2003

Grahame is one of two British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ringers on the island, he does the East side. His usual areas are the Castle Grounds and Aiginish, plus a whole heap of other sites depending on time of year and species!

Redpolls are finches.



These redpoll notes are a work in progress - if you can add to them or correct them, please help!

There are three species of redpoll, common redpoll, lesser redpoll and Arctic redpoll.
Of the common redpoll there are two distinct populations (one lighter, one darker) united in islandica. WIKI

Species Sub-species  

Common Redpoll

  • Common Redpoll
  • AKA: mealy redpoll or mealies
  • Carduelis flammea flammea
  • Nominate species of common redpoll
  • Most common form found in the Western Isles
  • Found in a broad band across Northern Europe - Scandinavia, Asia, North America.
  • Winter visitor
  • Larger and paler than lesser redpoll.
  • Smaller, browner & more streaked than Arctic redpoll
  • UK400 club splits this as a separate species (i.e. not rostrata - islandica?)
  • See some excellent ID photos of a mealy redpoll
    • Greenland Redpoll
    • Also called North Western or greater common redpoll
    • Carduelis flammea rostrata
    • UK400 club splits this as a separate species (includes islandica?)
    • Found in Greenland!
    • On the Bird Forms of Britain and Ireland list
    • Larger, browner than the mealy redpoll
        "North Western" Redpoll
    Martin Scott sent in a picture of a "North Western" Redpoll taken in the hebrides in 2007.
    He said:
    " It "may" be a Greenland Redpoll...but many Greenland's and Iceland's are impossible to separate as there is so much over lap. many birders now refer to Greenland?Iceland birds with the catch all name of "North Western Redpoll"......................
    • Icelandic Redpoll
    • Carduelis flammea islandica
    • The Icelandic common redpoll sub-species
    • Very pale Iceland Redpolls apparently look very similar to Arctic Redpolls

    Lesser Redpoll

    • Lesser Redpoll
    • Carduelis flammea cabaret
    • Found in Europe
    • Smallest, brownest and most streaked type of redpoll
    • Much richer in colour than the rest
    • On AMBER LIST - estimated 27,000 UK pairs in summer
    • Diet: Forages trees for seeds small seeds, alder, birch, willow, plus invertebrates in summer
    • Excellent article on distinguishing male and female lesser redpolls

      See some superb comparison notes for common and lesser redpolls with very helpful photographs



    Arctic Redpoll

    • Arctic Redpoll (Hornemann's Arctic redpoll, Greenland Arctic redpoll)
    • Carduelis hornemanni
    • UK: Scarce vistor
    • UK: 17 records annually BTO
    • Diet: Forages for trees seeds (willow, birch, alder). (Summmer also eats invertebrates)
    • Habitat: Tundra, birch scrubland
    • Very pale large form of the redpoll, light grey with dark-sparce penciling, usually no streaking on rump


    See also a photograph of a "North Western" redpoll taken by Martin Scott

    Other local bird photographs

    Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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