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Hoary Redpoll

Silhouette FinchesFinches
Hoary RedpollAcanthis hornemanni
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Fringillidae

Basic Description

"Hoarfrost" is the term for the beautiful ice crystals that form on clear, frigid winter nights—a scenario the Hoary Redpoll is intimately familiar with. This tiny finch breeds in arctic tundra and survives brutal winters well north of where most people live. "Hoary" also references this bird's frosty plumage, and "redpoll" is a nod to its berry-red crown patch. In some years, Hoary Redpolls make rare appearances to southern Canada or the northern U.S., sometimes showing up at bird feeders along with Common Redpolls.

More ID Info
image of range map for Hoary Redpoll
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

If you can make a visit to the High Arctic in summer, finding Hoary Redpolls can be straightforward, involving little more than a walk into their brushy tundra habitat. South of the tundra, however, finding a Hoary involves some luck. Every couple of years, Hoary Redpolls tend to make irruptive “flights” southward, and some reach the northern U.S., usually amid flocks of Common Redpolls. Check reports on eBird to find out if and where they are being seen.

Other Names

  • Pardillo Ártico (Spanish)
  • Sizerin blanchâtre (French)

Backyard Tips

Hoary Redpolls are infrequent visitors to most bird feeders, as they normally winter to the north of most settled parts of the continent. During irruption years, they may appear, typically in flocks with Common Redpolls. At these times, they may come to feeders that offer nyjer (often called thistle) or black-oil sunflower seeds.

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