Maybe I should change the name of this blog to “All about Redpolls”, but I’ve received a few photos that I wanted to pass along, making the point that “Greater” Common Redpoll is not just an eastern specialty. The AOU checklist and the BNA account report that this subspecies winters regularly from Labrador west to Manitoba, and has been recorded from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, as well as Colorado!
So here are two photos from Seth Cutright of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin showing an apparent “Greater” (on the upper right). Notice the slightly larger size, larger bill, dark color, and heavy streaking especially on the nape, flanks, and throat. If this is really a “Greater”, it would apparently be the first for Wisconsin, although that may not be too surprising considering the distribution of other records.
And (below) here it is again on the top right, turning away but showing the large size, heavy flank streaking and dark undertail coverts.
Cathy Mountain of Fort McMurray, Alberta also sent me a series of photos from her feeder, and among them is another apparent “Greater” Common Redpoll (far right). The large size, dark color, and heavy streaking is pretty obvious. This would apparently represent a first for Alberta, but that should not be too surprising if the subspecies really winters regularly in Manitoba.
So I would urge anyone who sees Common Redpolls to watch for larger birds and try to document potential “Greater” redpolls. This subspecies appears to wander widely to the west of its breeding range, and could seemingly turn up anywhere within the winter range of Common Redpoll (at least west to the Rocky Mountains).
Another note on Hoary:
Trained observers will notice that the photo above shows several Hoaries. In fact it was Cathy Mountain’s photos from Alberta that prompted me to check CBC results for my post about winter range of Hoary Redpoll. Fort McMurray is obviously within the core of the winter range of Hoary, as the following photo shows.
I guess there are at least eleven Hoary Redpolls in this picture! (when I said “ten” yesterday that was just an error in addition). The seven in the foreground and one back left are so white they are pretty unambiguous – the kind of Hoaries that are seen only rarely east of the Northern Plains region. (I’m also counting the two central birds with tawny head and faint flank streaking as Hoary, as well as the partial bird visible at the top left.)
Greg Sargeant reports that there is a “Greater” Common Redpoll in Rhode Island, photo here, which may be the first ever noticed in that state.