Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-06

Common name:

Common Redpoll

Scientific name: Acanthis flammea
Date: 1/8/2013
Time: 12:00 pm
Length of time observed: On and off for an hour
Number: 4
Age: Two adult males; other age/sex not known.
Sex: Two adult males; other age/sex not known.
Location: Villager Apts., Preston Ave, Logan
County: Cache
Elevation: 4600
Distance to bird: As close as 10 ft.
Optical equipment: Leica 8x50 binoculars
Weather: Cold, F. 2-3" snow on ground.
Light Conditions: Hazy.
Description:        Size of bird: About size of Pine Siskins it was feeding with.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Passerine
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Whitish with brown streaking; red on crown.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Finch
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small cardueline finch, about same size as Pine Siskin (5"). Whitish overall with brown streaking on back, sides of breast, flanks, and head. Streaking prominent on auriculars, back of head, nape, back, sides of breast, and flanks. Streaking less prominent on supercilium and sides of neck. Red crown visible on all four birds seen. Small, conical yellow bill. Black lores, throat and fore crown also visible on all four birds. Strongly emarginated tails. Single prominent white wing bar. All birds had streaking present on rump and on undertail coverts. Black legs and feet. At least two of the four birds had pinkish wash on upper breast, indicating adult male.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Calls difficult to pick out amongst the calls of 30 Pine Siskins, 50 House Finches, and Lesser and American Goldfinches also present at hanging feeders. Did not attempt to describe or record vocalizations.
Behavior: Fed at both thistle socks and sunflower seed feeders, generally in company of Pine Siskins, Lesser Goldfinches, and American Goldfinches, but did not necessarily flock with those species. Very skittish, took flight multiple times, probably in response to presence of Sharp-shinned Hawk, which, although not seen on 1/8/13, killed and ate an American Goldfinch at these feeders on 1/6/13.
Habitat: Thistle sock and sunflower seed feeders in rural setting with fair number of mature trees.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Pine Siskin eliminated because they have gray bills, have yellow wing bars and sometimes yellow in their tails, and lack the overall whitish appearance with streaking, and do not have red crowns, black lores or throat, and do not have pinkish wash on their upper breast. House Finch and Cassin's Finch eliminated because they are substantially larger, have different bill color and shape, are not whitish overall with brown streaking, and have different red tones in different parts of plumage; not just in crown and on breast. Hoary Redpoll was eliminated because plumage and shape not consistent with what was observed. All four redpolls observed had extensive thick streaking on flanks; obvious streaking in undertail coverts; lacked the steep crown and smaller, stubbier bill of Hoary Redpoll; had extensive streaking on rump; and lacked the strong frosty tones in the upperparts, head, and underparts that are found in Hoary Redpoll.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Extensive experience with this species in upstate NY (where I started birding); also have seen Common Redpoll four times in Utah (prior to this record). Have seen Hoary Redpoll once.
References consulted: Checked big Sibley 1/9/13 on age and sex plumage differences. Notes not taken at time of sighting, but took over 300 digital images.
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Craig R. Fosdick
Observer's address: PO Box 443, Logan, UT, 84323-0443
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None.
Date prepared: 1/9/2013.
Additional material: Photos  Took over 300 digital images; will e-mail images selected to support this record.
Additional_Comments: Observations entered here: