The redpoll flock is back at my feeders. I just counted 21 birds,
with none that yell "Hoary". I thought I had figured out a surefire
way to tell pale Common Redpolls from Hoaries by looking at bill size
and shape - but a recent article on David Sibley's blog says that
there's too much overlap in bill size between the two species to use
that characteristic to distinguish them.
I guess I'm back to the rule someone suggested to me years ago: If
you have any doubt, it's probably not a Hoary. If you gasp and say,
"wow! That one's REALLY different, it probably is a Hoary".
Several birds in today's and yesterday's flock are noticeably bigger
and darker than the rest, suggesting the subspecies Greater Common
Redpoll. There's info about them at