Sharon Tierra reported a possible Hoary Redpoll at her feeders last week. On Sunday, I sat in her living room, about ten feet from the feeder, and the bird in question. I took about 30 pictures. Back home I studied the photos, and my guides, and decided it might be a Hoary or it might be a Common.
I've cropped three of the photos and put them on a website:
Monday, Hector Galbraith studied my pictures and came to the same conclusion. Then he lurked about Sharon's house for an hour. Here is his conclusion, addressed to Sharon:
about 5 redpolls were present including your pale bird. I had really stunning views of it down to about 8 feet. What is my conclusion - I don't know!
First, here is why it could be a male hoary:
1) the relative lack of streaking on the rump - 2) the finer streaking on the flanks - 3) the relative lack of streaking on the undertail coverts
4) the generally frosty look - 5) the way it held itself (with the wings drooped the whole time that I watched it exposing its rump and making it look much fluffier and larger than the accompanying commons)
Here is why it could be a male common: 1) its rump is not white enough to be a hoary - 2) the streaking on the flanks isn't fine enough to be a hoary - 3) the streaking on the undertails seems too much for it to be a hoary - 4) to me the bill did not seem small enough to be a hoary
So what does all this mean to me - it falls into the grey area between common and hoary. It could either be a poorly marked exilipes hoary (it is certainly not a hornemanni hoary) or it could be a very well marked male common. Maybe we should put something on VTbirds describing this bird as a caution to other people searching for hoarys. If it is any compensation to you, your bird looks nearly as convincing as some hoarys reported recently from Keene, though, having looked at a photo of the Keene bird, I am not convinced about them, either!