Common Redpolls are energetic little songbirds that travel in flocks, burrow in the snow, and thrive in the cold. They make their home in the arctic tundra and boreal forest and can survive temperatures of 65 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Since Common Redpolls live in these cold climates and aren’t used to humans, they tolerate people quite well and are very tame. They migrate erratically traveling to Canada and the northern United States depending on food sources. Common Redpolls are always a welcome sight at back yard feeders and have been spotted as far south as Kansas.
They are named Redpolls for their red “caps”. The males have a splash of red on the tops of their heads and a reddish pink blush on their breasts. In the breeding season, the male really stands out as his red becomes more vivid. The females have similar coloring on their heads, but their breasts are duller in color allowing them to better blend in with nature. Both males and females have brown streaking against white feathers on most of their bodies. The coloring is similar to that of the House Finch.
While birch seeds are a staple most of the year, Common Redpolls eat many types of seeds. In addition to their favorites Niger and thistle, they like black oil sunflower seeds. They have small beaks and must eat seeds that are easy to open. In the summer, this colorful bird loves to munch on spiders and insects for some extra protein. It’s a good thing their diet is so varied since they eat as much as 45% of their body weight a day.
You may wonder how these tiny little birds endure the bitter cold temperatures and harsh wind of the arctic tundra. They are resourceful, hearty, and smart. They create tunnels in the snow that help keep them warm. These tunnels can be a foot long and as much as four inches deep. When it gets too cold, several of the birds will sleep huddled closely together in the tunnels and escape the bitter cold wind.
Common Redpolls are also built to be resourceful. They have little pouches in their throats used to store seeds. Sometimes they fill these pouches completely, then fly away to swallow the seeds in a more safe and comfortable place.
Common Redpolls travel in flocks of several hundred birds, so you’ll rarely see just one or two. They have a sharp, buzzy call often heard when they are actively foraging. The oldest known Common Redpoll was 7 years and 10 months old. Not bad for a tiny bird that puts up with the harshest temperatures on the planet! They are truly tough little birds with the ability to make the most of their environment.
Click below to watch a video of a Common Redpoll eating in the wild.
Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area.
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