The Common Redpoll
The Common Redpoll is an erratic winter visitor to our area, a few will show up every winter in small flocks and every now and then we get hundreds descending from the north and then showing up at our bird feeders. This winter is rather a mild one as far as numbers of individuals are concerned, although enough to be on the lookout for them at Mount Auburn Cemetery. I saw my first redpolls of this winter season at Halycon Lake in early December feeding on the catkins of a White Birch.
Sometimes referred to as the Catkin Finch, these guys love the seeds of birch and alder – they often hang in improbable positions dangling upside down as they remove seed from the birch catkin. Redpolls, like many of the winter finches can be quite tame and easily approached, and will readily respond to pishing. The plumage of Common Redpoll is variable, some males will have a very rosy breast, and others show much less red even on the top of the head. They fly like goldfinches, bouncy and energetic and calling all the time.
You might find them anywhere in Mount Auburn, listen for their call which sounds like a buzzy “che che che che” and look especially on the birch trees – white, yellow and river – where they feed on the catkins.