AskDefine | Define redpoll

Dictionary Definition



1 small siskin-like finch with a red crown [syn: Carduelis hornemanni]
2 small siskin-like finch with a red crown [syn: Carduelis flammea]

User Contributed Dictionary



redpoll (plural redpolls)
  1. Any of various finches in the genus Carduelis, which have characteristic red markings on their heads.


Extensive Definition

The Redpolls are a group of small passerine birds in the finch family Fringillidae which have characteristic red markings on their heads. They were formerly placed into the genus Acanthis together with the linnets and the twite, but their closest relatives are actually the crossbills, that are placed in the genus Loxia (Arnaiz-Villena et al., 2001). The latter genus could be merged with Carduelis in a single genus, for which the name Loxia would then have priority. But this would imply to change the name of a large number of species, and as their adaptations and biogeography are evolutionarily quite peculiar, it would be better to reinstate Acanthis instead, including only the redpolls. There are several different very closely related (Seutin et al., 1995) forms of redpolls which could be considered as anything from one to five species (Knox, 1988). Recent studies (Herremans, 1990; Sangster et al., 2002) tend to support three species, but this is certainly not definite.
All redpolls are northern breeding woodland species, associated with birch trees. They are small dumpy birds, brown or grey-brown above and with a red forehead patch. The adult male's breast is washed in red, but in females and young birds the buff breast and white belly are streaked with brown. The bill is small and yellow. Some birds, particularly young ones, are difficult to assign to species.
They are primarily seed-eaters, and often feed acrobatically like a tit; their diet may include some insects in summer. They have a dry reeling song and a metallic call. They lay 4-7 eggs in a nest in a tree or, in the case of Arctic Redpoll, a large bush. They can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with other finches.
The species are:
  • The Common Redpoll, Carduelis flammea (subspecies C. f. islandica and C. f. rostrata)


  • Arnaiz-Villena, A.; Guillén, J.; Ruiz-del-Valle, V.; Lowy, E.; Zamora, J.; Varela, P.; Stefani, D. & Allende, L. M. (2001): Phylogeography of crossbills, bullfinches, grosbeaks, and rosefinches. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 58(8): 1159–1166. PDF fulltext
  • Herremans, M. 1990. Taxonomy and evolution in Redpolls Carduelis flammea – hornemanni; a multivariate study of their biometry. Ardea 78(3): 441–458. HTML abstract
  • Knox, A. G. (1988): The taxonomy of redpolls. Ardea 76(1): 1–26.
  • Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. Ibis 144(1): 153–159. PDF fulltext
  • Seutin, G.; Ratcliffe, L. M. & Boag, P. T. (1995): Mitochondrial DNA homogeneity in the phenotypically diverse redpoll finch complex (Aves: Carduelinae: Carduelis flammea - hornemanni). Evolution 49(5): 962–973. (HTML abstract and first page image)

External links

Further reading

  • Knox, A. G., and P. E. Lowther. 2000. Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni). In The Birds of North America, No. 544 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  • Knox, A. G., and P. E. Lowther. 2000. Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea). In The Birds of North America, No. 543 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
redpoll in Czech: Čečetka
redpoll in French: Sizerin flammé
redpoll in Icelandic: Auðnutittlingur
redpoll in Lithuanian: Čimčiakas
redpoll in Hungarian: Zsezse
redpoll in Dutch: Barmsijs
redpoll in Japanese: ベニヒワ
redpoll in Norwegian: Polarsisik
redpoll in Norwegian Nynorsk: Gråsisik
redpoll in Polish: Czeczotka
redpoll in Finnish: Urpiainen
redpoll in Swedish: Gråsiska
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