Please help with my redpoll feeding confusion
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.