Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday's Foto

The Common Redpoll is one of our "winter finches" that is normally found in the subarctic forests and tundra across northern Canada and much of Alaska. Circumpolar, they also range across the northern reaches of Europe and Russia.

A bit larger than our American Goldfinch males are heavily streaked and have a small, red crown and rosy breast. Females are duller, lack the rosy breast, but do have a red crown. Usually traveling in large, energetic flocks they feed primarily on seeds from birches, alders, willows, pines, elms, basswood and larch. Like chickadees, they are quite acrobatic and often hang upside down as they feed. They will go to feeders in the winter and can be very tame. Common Redpolls can survive temperatures of -65° F. Some individuals tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night.

Common Redpolls are abundant, so much so that the IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as “Least Concern”. In addition, they rate a 7 out of 20 on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Species Assessment Summary and Watch List.

The Common Redpoll’s genus was recently changed from carduelis to acanthis. According to Wikipedia, “Molecular phylogenetic studies showed that the Arctic and common redpolls formed a distinct lineage, so the two species were grouped together in the resurrected genus Acanthis”. Its scientific name, Acanthis flammea, means “type of finch” (from Greek mythology Acanthis, daughter of Autonous, who was metamorphosed into a type of finch) and flame-coloured.

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