Arctic Redpolll: Small finch, buff-gray, brown-streaked upperparts and brown-streaked white underparts washed pink. Head has red cap, black chin patch. Black wings with two white bars. Rump is pale gray or white with few or no streaks. Black tail is notched. Brown-black legs and feet.
Range and Habitat
Arctic Redpoll: Breeds in tundra birch forests across northern Canada, Greenland, and Eurasia. Some birds migrate short distances south for the winter. Rare winter visitor to UK and Ireland, with the majority of sightings along the eastern English coast. Found in forest clearings, open fields, and near bodies of water.
Also known as perching birds, the order PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez) is composed of one hundred and eighteen families of birds, among which are the insectivorous warblers and the seed-eating finches.
The Fringillidae (pronounced frin-JIHL-lih-dee) is a widespread bird family found on most continents and includes two hundred and seven species of finches in thirty-nine genera (IOC World Bird List, version 2.3).
Thirty-four species of finches in thirteen genera have occurred in Europe. These include familiar feeder visitors such as goldfinches and siskins, the crossbills, and the massive-billed Hawfinch.
Finches are known for their seed-eating behaviour and cheery songs; characteristics that facilitated and popularized the domestication of the Island Canary. Finches such as White-winged Crossbills are also known for their “irruptive" migrations in search of food sources that can make them locally common one winter and absent the next.
Finches are primarily small birds with stout, short bills adapted to cracking open seeds and have short legs for a mostly arboreal lifestyle. Many species also have slightly forked tails and long wings useful for the large amount of flying needed to find seeding plants.
European finches are generally plumaged in shades of red, yellow, brown, grey, and dull green. Male finches are more brightly coloured than females; the pinkish-red, grey, black, and white plumage of male Bullfinches being especially striking.
Finches in Europe occupy forest and non-forest habitats, coniferous forests being favoured by some species. The non-forest niche is filled by a variety of species including goldfinches, the Linnet, Twite, and the Trumpeter Finch.
Most finches are adapted to cold weather and only migrate when seed crops on their breeding grounds become scarce. An exception to this is the Common Rosefinch which migrates from north-eastern Europe to India for the winter.
Members of the finch family are very social birds typically found in flocks outside of the breeding season. Most finches forage for seeds in trees and bushes although a few species take some insects and forage on the ground.
While finches in Europe are doing quite well, most members of this family native to the Hawaiian Islands are highly endangered with many having already gone extinct and others in decline because of their high susceptibility to introduced diseases such as avian malaria and changes to the native forests they inhabit.
The aptly named crossbills have curious curved bills with crossed tips. Although it looks more like a bill deformity than a useful tool, this specialized bill shape is perfect for extracting seeds from pine cones.