#332 Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

31 January 2021

The range of the common redpoll extends through northern Europe and Asia to northern North America, Greenland and Iceland. It is a partial migrant, moving southward in late autumn and northward again in March and April. Its typical habitat is boreal forests of pines, spruces and larches. It feeds mainly on seeds, principally birch and alder seeds in the winter.

The nominate subspecies A. f. flammea, the mealy redpoll, breeds across the northern parts of North America and the Palearctic. There is also a subspecies that breeds in Iceland called the Icelandic redpoll (A. f. islandica), and one that breeds in Greenland and Baffin Island called the Greenland redpoll (A. f. rostrata).

Many taxonomic authorities (ME!) consider the lesser redpoll a subspecies of the common redpoll. Together, the Icelandic and Greenland forms are sometimes known as the ‘northwestern redpolls’. All the subspecies migrate south into Canada, the northern U.S., or Eurasia. These birds are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures and winter movements are mainly driven by the availability of food. There are two distinct populations (one lighter, one darker) united in islandica, the relationships of which are unresolved

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