David Sibley's blog has some interesting info about all the
variations of redpolls. Check out
and search "redpolls". Scroll down a bit and you'll find an article
about redpoll identification.
On Mar 31, 2011, at 4:40 PM, Ian Worley wrote:
> This afternoon a flock of 32 Redpolls found our feeders and were
> busy on the feeders and the ground underneath for at least 30
> minutes. Of late we've only seen one or two Redpolls every couple
> of days or so.
> In this group was one very noticeably larger bird. I'd love to
> have some thoughts from those who know about the larger Redpolls of
> what it may be. When I first glanced at a Niger seed feeder and
> saw it filled with Redpolls, I was quite startled by a clearly
> larger bird, which I then realized was indeed also a Redpoll. I
> later watched for several minutes the bird in a group of 25 or so
> birds on the ground. It generally stayed near the edge of the group.
> The body length appeared 15-20% larger than that of the other
> Redpolls. This was especially noticeable as they sat on the
> perches of the feeder. The body volume was really quite noticeably
> larger ... maybe 50% or more larger. Seemed pudgy compared with
> the other Redpolls.
> The body striping was bold and extended well up the neck to a well
> defined dark necklace. The face was darker than that of the other
> Redpolls and there was a hint of patterning in the malars. The
> body striping seemed blackish with a very slight touch of brown
> perhaps; the dark parts of the back likewise had a very slight tint
> of warming brown; and the face likewise had a faint brownness. All
> this being the case, the overall appearance of the bird was that it
> was slightly lighter in coloration than the other Redpolls, i.e.
> lightly frosted.
> Other than the crown, there was no red coloration anywhere.
> Notably, the crown was distinctly more brown than red, and most
> evidently less bright and showy than the crowns of any other
> Redpoll in the flock.
> Any thoughts on species/variety would be appreciated.
> By the way, one of the other Redpolls with no red tinting of the
> breast was striped as the others, but distinctly cream colored on
> the breast, belly, and flanks.