[Tweeters] another and yet another's frustrations with Redpolls

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Mon Mar 4 19:55:11 PST 2013

Just saw this a few minutes ago and am copy/pasting relevant excerpts of
this bcintbird list entry from our friends north of the border. I can fully
relate and thought some of you might find it of some interest. A
cautionary tale as it were.

Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA

Subject: * TODAY * [bcintbird] Re: south okanagan birding & 72 species +
possible Hoary Redpoll
From: leighton.douglas
Date: Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 6:26 PM


When someone with your skills has problems identifying a species - even
with photos - we know that these 'intermediate' redpolls are one of the most
foggy and nebulous corners of birding. One friend recently called it a
"nightmare." And the more one looks into it, the worse it gets.

I feel your pain. This has been a great winter for Redpolls here (near
Golden). They arrived quite early and have been visiting our feeder daily
since early November. I always appreciate them as more colourful versions of the
Siskins they seasonally replace but this year has been that 'nightmare'
due to an unprecedented number of pale Arctic redpolls.

This started simply enough with the arrival, on Dec 29, of a classic
'textbook' female Hoary Redpoll with all the diagnostic features which was kind
enough to stay around for more than a week providing many photo ops (and
letting me get some prime FOY and LOY dates for our yard list). Then a
textbook male HORE showed up, but it was smaller and had a slightly larger bill.
Then things got very murky, reaching a mind-numbing point with the arrival
of a bird that looks very much like the one in your photo; that is, what
appears to be a HORE with a CORE head and bill! I called it a Very Hoary
Common Redpoll and, by default, recorded it in eBird as a CORE.

Then more birds came and it just got worse, prompting new terminology. Now
I'm calling these intermediates "Grrrrredpolls." Or combining the HORE and
CORE and calling them CHOREs - because that is what attempting to identify
(and photograph) some of them has become.

This whole experience has been frustrating but also very educational. This
link, and the links attached to it, nicely sums things up:


Bottom line: there are no single slam-dunk ID feature(s) and some
intermediates are impossible to label. When one sees how much individual variation
there is in COREs that hints at the variation in HOREs - and makes me, for
one, doubt that these are really two species at all.

On the bright side, I have recently found some relief from this
'nightmare' by contacting a northern birder with tons of experience with these birds
who has started to look at my photos. Don't want to post their identity
here without permission - they could get flooded with photos this year! - but
if I get the OK I will contact you directly with that info and maybe they
can give you some guidance on what to call your CHORE.


Doug Leighton
Blaeberry, BC

--- In (email address filtered), Chris Charlesworth wrote:




> Birders,


> Yesterday, Feb 27, Ryan Tomlinson and I headed to the South



> ....I happened to photograph a particularly pale redpoll that could have

been a HOARY REDPOLL. The undertail coverts which I did see as well were
immaculate white, with one thin, faint streak in the centre. I have added
some photos of this bird, that had classic Hoary flanks, with limited
streaking. The upperpars are exceptionally pale, especially the edges to the wing
coverts and tertials. The rump was very white. A few people have questioned
the birds bill and head profile aren't quite right for Hoary. I have
attached photos at _http://www.flickr.com/charlesworth30_
(http://www.flickr.com/charlesworth30) . Anyone wanting to comment, please do!


> Chris Charlesworth

> Kelowna, BC

More information about the Tweeters mailing list