Redpolls from Barrow, October 2018

A fascinating place to watch redpolls is Barrow, in the north part of Alaska. Are the redpolls in this remote arctic place Mealy Redpolls (flammea) or Arctic Redpolls (exilipes)? Good question!

Barrow is hosting a very good feeder: Mike’s feeder is best in town, you’ll find here all local redpolls. During my trip to Barrow (first 2 weeks of October 2018) for Ross’s Gulls, I spent about an hour every day studying and photographing redpolls. I counted circa 25 redpolls every day and it was surprising that these little creatures were all in adult plumage (except one). During my stay in Barrow in June 2015 I found breeding Arctic Redpolls, a fledged juvenile and some second calendar year Arctic Redpolls.



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Mike's feeders.

During my stay in October 2018, most of the redpolls had a white rump and quite dark flank streaking, not remarkable pale and overall quite ‘buff‘.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

The question arises whether these are all Arctic Redpolls? Some of them are certainly Mealy Redpolls. And some of them are Arctic Redpolls, despite their buff appearance and flank streaking. It’s because these birds just completed their moulting. Their feathers are fresh, without any wear. When these birds will be a few weeks older, they will be lesser buff because the wear of the feathers. The flank streaking will probably also disappear a bit.

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Mealy Redpoll, adult male.

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Mealy Redpoll, adult female. A dark bird that looks almost like a Greenland Redpoll, but too small in size.

Then there are still some redpolls left. I’d call them ‘in between’. These birds have a white rump, but on the edges some streaking and too much flank streaking. I leave these redpolls undefined. Probably these birds are hybrid between Mealy and Arctic Redpolls...

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpolls, adult (probably female and male).

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‘In between’-redpoll (adult), or perhaps even a Mealy Redpoll.

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‘In between’-redpoll (?), adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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‘In between’-redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, first winter.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpolls, adult.

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‘In between’-barmsijs, adult.

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Mealy Redpoll, adult (left) and Arctic Redpoll, adult (right).

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

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Arctic Redpoll, adult.

 



More info about redpolls? See my redpoll overview.