Please help with my red­poll feed­ing con­fu­sion

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

From Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber, I reg­u­larly had red­polls feed­ing with Siskins and Goldfinches on sun­flower hearts in my sub­ur­ban south Glas­gow gar­den – but which red­poll? The more I look in books, the more con­fused I be­come. Can you please help iden­tify them? Terry Thorpe, Glas­gow

QTh­ese look like Lesser Red­polls to us. Rel­a­tively re­cently split as a sep­a­rate species from the paler Com­mon or Mealy Red­poll, the Lesser Red­poll is a streakier bird than its larger cousin. What is very in­ter­est­ing is that one of th­ese birds has a yel­low fore­head, rather than the more usual red. Ac­cord­ing to the sem­i­nal Birds of the Western Palearc­tic such yel­low fore­heads are ex­cep­tional, but com­moner among cap­tive birds. In cap­tive birds this may have a

ALesser Red­poll and Siskin (right)

di­etary cause, but in the wild it seems to be ge­netic, and is more com­mon in fe­male and first year birds than it is in adult males.

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