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Added information regarding Redpolls for any of you who are  
interested.......
Cheers, Eve

> From: Jean Iron <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: December 18, 2007 9:27:44 AM EST (CA)
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [Ontbirds]Redpoll Challenge - 4 subspecies
>
> The Redpoll Challenge: This is a major redpoll winter in southern  
> Canada and the United States. The legendary George North of  
> Hamilton, Ontario, once saw all four North American redpoll  
> subspecies in the same flock on 23 March 1958 near Hamilton (North  
> 1983, Curry 2006). Fifty years later this could be the winter to do  
> it again. On 15 December 2007, Ron and Doug Tozer found a big  
> "snowball" Hornemann's" Hoary Redpoll (nominate hornemanni) on the  
> Minden Christmas Bird Count. This is the rarest redpoll in southern  
> Canada. On 14 December 2007, I saw two "Greater" Common Redpolls  
> (rostrata) at our feeders in Toronto and there have been several  
> other recent reports. With these two High Arctic subspecies and  
> probably record numbers of "Southern" Hoary Redpolls (exilipes) in  
> flocks of "Southern" Common Redpoll (nominate flammea), we have all  
> four North American subspecies in southern Ontario this winter.  
> Below I summarize the basic information needed to understand and  
> identify redpolls with links to photos.
>
> Taxonomy: The American Ornithologists' Union (1998) recognizes two  
> species: Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) and Hoary Redpoll (C.  
> hornemanni). Each has two subspecies (races) breeding in North  
> America. Discussion about lumping or splitting redpolls has been  
> off the "radar screen" in recent years. The four subspecies are  
> described below.
>
> 1. "Southern" Common Redpoll (nominate flammea): This is the  
> commonest of the four subspecies in southern Ontario. It is the  
> standard to which the other three are compared. In most plumages,  
> it is noticeably streaked on the sides, undertail coverts and rump.  
> However, adult males in winter have more contrasting whiter rumps  
> (fewer streaks and often pinkish) than on worn breeding birds.  
> Adult males are pink-breasted. First year males are somewhat darker  
> and often washed with light pink. Adult females usually lack pink  
> (sometimes tinged) and first year females are the darkest and most  
> heavily streaked of the four age/sex classes.
>
> 2. "Greater" Common Redpoll (rostrata): This large and dark  
> subspecies breeds on Baffin Island and Greenland. Greater Redpolls  
> are a winter visitor in small numbers to the southern parts of  
> eastern Canada from Ontario to Newfoundland (Godfrey 1986) and to  
> the northeastern United States. Greaters are more frequent than  
> Hoarys in some winters (Pittaway 1992). The Greater is larger  
> (averages 14.0 cm compared to 12.5 cm for flammea) and heavier.  
> Other field marks are the Greater's thicker bill and somewhat  
> darker and browner coloration with conspicuous heavy streaking on  
> the underparts usually extending to the undertail coverts. Adult  
> male Greaters have "red of underparts less extensive and less  
> intense" than flammea (Godfrey 1986). Males lack red on the malar  
> area, which flammea males usually have (Beadle and Rising 2006).  
> Some observers describe Greaters as House Finch-like. See the  
> excellent identification article on Greater Redpoll by Beadle and  
> Henshaw (1996) in Birders Journal 5(1):44-47, illustrated by  
> Beadle. The differences between the two Common Redpoll subspecies  
> are usually obvious when the two are together for comparison  
> (Peterson 1947).
>
> 3. "Southern" Hoary Redpoll (exilipes): This subspecies breeds in  
> the Low Arctic and much of its range overlaps that of the  
> "Southern" Common Redpoll (flammea). It is the much commoner Hoary  
> subspecies, and is similar in size to the flammea Common Redpoll.  
> During redpoll flight years, it is usually possible to find a few  
> classic adult male exilipes Hoarys. Compared to the "Southern"  
> Common Redpoll, they are more frosted with white rumps, have  
> lightly streaked flanks and very lightly streaked to pure white  
> undertail coverts. Adult females and especially first year females  
> can be noticeably streaked. Exilipes Hoary is similar in size to  
> flammea Common, but may look slightly larger because of its whiter  
> plumage. Hoarys have shorter, more obtuse (stubby) bills imparting  
> a distinctive "pushed in face" appearance. Many females are  
> identifiable by overall paler coloration and bill shape.  
> Individuals appearing intermediate between exilipes and flammea are  
> best left unidentified.
>
> 4. "Hornemann's" Hoary Redpoll (nominate hornemanni): This is the  
> largest, palest and rarest redpoll. Hornemann's breeds in the  
> Canadian High Arctic Islands and Greenland and is a great rarity in  
> southern Ontario and Quebec. Hornemann's is larger (averages 14.0  
> cm) than "Southern" Hoary (exilipes) which averages 12.5 cm. It is  
> whiter with less streaking on the sides and flanks and has  
> immaculate white undertail coverts. Adult males have less pink than  
> exilipes, some showing only a trace of pink suffusion on the  
> breast. Females and first year birds are recognizable if compared  
> directly to the two small subspecies, flammea and exilipes, by  
> their larger size. See the excellent article on redpoll  
> identification by Czaplak (1995) in Birding 27(6):446-457. His  
> photo of Hornemann's on page 448 is correctly identified in my  
> opinion. Note larger size of the Hornemann's in the photo in  
> American Birds 42(2):239, which is reproduced on Jean's website  
> link below. See also Doug Tozer's photo and Ron Tozer's detailed  
> description of the recent Ontario "Hornemann's" on Jean Iron's  
> website link below. See David Sibley's website link below.
>
> A. Why is there so much plumage variation in redpolls?  A flock of  
> one subspecies of the Common Redpoll (flammea) will show four  
> plumage types: adult males, adult females, first year males and  
> first year females. Since there are four redpoll subspecies, a  
> large flock potentially could have 16 plumage types, plus  
> considerable individual variation.
>
> B. What is the Greenland Redpoll? Historically, the name Greenland  
> has NOT been used in North America to describe the rostrata  
> "Greater" Common Redpoll (Peterson 1947, Todd 1963, Bent 1968,  
> Terres 1991, etc.). However, Greenland Redpoll is the European name  
> for "Greater" Common Redpoll (Newton 1972, Jonsson 1993, etc.).  
> Most North American publications use Greenland Redpoll for  
> "Hornemann's" Hoary Redpoll (Nash 1905, Macoun and Macoun 1909,  
> Taverner 1953, North 1983, etc.). The name Greenland causes  
> confusion. Most of our Hornemann's Hoary Redpolls and Greater  
> Common Redpolls are coming from Canada, not Greenland. To avoid  
> confusion, it is preferable to include the subspecies scientific  
> name after the common name, particularly when first mentioned:  
> (flammea), (rostrata), (hornemanni) and (exilipes).
>
> TAKE THE REDPOLL CHALLENGE: This is the first winter in decades to  
> match George North's Ontario record of four redpoll subspecies in  
> one day. Even more amazing, all four were in the same flock. I am  
> not aware that North's record has been matched in southern Canada  
> or the northern United States. However, Roland C. Clement saw all  
> four subspecies on 12 March 1944 at Indian House Lake in northern  
> Quebec (Lat 56 15' 0 N, Long 64 42' 0 W) south of Ungava Bay close  
> to Labrador. Clement in Todd (1963) reported "a feeding flock of  
> mixed migrants that contained ten rostrata, thirty flammea, two  
> hornemanni, and about six exilipes."
>
> Three websites with redpoll information and photos.
> Jean Iron <http://www.jeaniron.ca/2007/Redpolls/index.htm>
> Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station in Toronto <http:// 
> www.ttpbrs.ca/>
> David Sibley <http://sibleyguides.blogspot.com/> Scroll down to  
> Tuesday December 4.
>
> Acknowledgements: I thank Michel Gosselin of the Canadian Museum of  
> Nature for information on redpoll taxonomy and identification. Doug  
> Tozer kindly provided his photo of the recent Minden "Hornemann's"  
> Redpoll. Jean Iron and Ron Tozer made many helpful suggestions.
>
> Literature Cited: I can supply full references.
>
> Ron Pittaway
> Minden and Toronto ON
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