Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)

Arctic Redpoll

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis hornemanni | [UK] Arctic Redpoll | [FR] | [DE] Polarbirkenzeisig | [ES] | [NL]


Monotypic species


Physical charateristics

Size varies considerably: main Holarctic race exilipes similar to north Eurasian and North American race of Redpoll but often looking plumper, particularly around neck; Baffin Island and Greenland race, C. h. hornemanni (Hornemann?s Redpoll), up to 10% larger, exceeding Greenland race of Redpoll and overlapping with Twite. Small but long, ghostly finch, with similar behaviour and flight to northern races of Redpoll, but rather loose plumage much greyer above and whiter below. Rump of adult and 1st-winter male white and usually unmarked. Plumage pattern of adult and 1st winter male like Redpoll but buff tones restricted to head, pale supercilium more marked, ear-coverts paler, wing marks white and more contrasting, long rump pure white, and underparts white and far less streaked. Juvenile and some 1st-winter females much closer in appearance to northern race of Redpoll, showing streaked rump but less streaked paler underparts, especially below tail. Bill stubby, particularly in exilipes, and partly hidden by profuse feathering at base of bill.

Listen to the sound of Arctic Redpoll

[audio: Redpoll.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 24 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 9 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia, North America : North


Distinguishable from that of Redpoll only by being confined to more northerly Arctic latitudes, where, however, the need for some kind of dwarf willow or other shrub growth remains indispensable in breeding season. In winter, main population remains in or near breeding latitudes, coping with night temperatures down to c. -60 degrees C in central Alaska, and foraging for as long as possible in low light available. This degree of hardiness is all the more surprising since closely related forms of Redpoll inhabiting temperate climates quite commonly move south in winter, even to Mediterranean regions.


Nest is built in dwarf tree or shrub, almost always willow, poplar, birch, or alder; in crotch or on branch or twigs generally close to trunk, almost always less than c. 2 m above ground, though usually in upper part of shrub. Nest is a robust structure with foundation of small twigs, bark, stems, roots, grass, catkins, etc., warmly lined with hair, fur, plant down, and many feathers, especially white ones of grouse; lining sometimes only of feathers, and often higher than outer wall. Clutch: 4-5 (3-7), incubation 11-12 days and fledging period 10-12 days.

Feeding habits

Diet comprises small seeds, particularly birch, alder, willow, various herbs, and grasses; some small invertebrates in summer; probably very similar to that of Redpoll. Forages in trees like Redpoll; in snow, above all in winter, when one of very few passerines to remain in Arctic, foraging restricted to scrub, tall herbs and catkins above snow, seeds on surface, snow-free patches at coasts or on windy slopes, roadsides, and rubbish tips.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Loxia leucoptera is a widespread resident in the boreal zone of Russia and
Fennoscandia, with Europe accounting for less than a quarter of its global range. Its
European breeding population is very large (>1,000,000 pairs), and was stable between
1970-1990. The species remained broadly stable overall during 1990-2000, with
fluctuations in Russia, Sweden and Norway, and increases in Finland.
Arctic Redpoll status Least Concern


Sedentary to migratory, wintering chiefly within breeding range in Europe, but frther S in Asia. In Europe, migrates S-W on fairly narrow front, with western populations progressively further east.
Winter visitors greatly augment populations of W and S Europe, and regularly reach North Africa. Migrates by day in flocks, most actively in morning hours, sometimes in company with Brambling.

Distribution map

Arctic Redpoll distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *