Hoary Redpolls at Scott Baldinger’s Feeders

female HOARY REDPOLL at Scott's feeders 1/10/13

female HOARY REDPOLL at Scott’s feeders 1/10/13

On 1/1/13, Arlene Borko and I were viewing the mass of Common Redpolls at Scott’s feeders when a ghostly pale redpoll flew in. I called Scott who informed me he had seen it a couple of times. I told him I thought it was an excellent candidate for a Hoary Redpoll. He agreed, but we needed more detailed looks at the bird. It departed shortly there after. We all saw the bird once or twice (Scott more) daily over the next ten days. On or about the 5th, a likely male was spotted by Scott and Lance Verderame. Arlene and I arrived to have a few good looks, but since there are so many redpolls (over 200 at times) it is difficult to get unobstructed views to confirm all the field marks necessary for the ID. Yesterday, both Scott and I believe we confirmed the ID of both birds as Hoaries. The male even hung upside down revealing his under-tail and vent, which had a lone fine streak in the center. This qualified the bird for a Hoary. Now to get photos. We had already tried daily without success to get good identifiable shots. Finally yesterday, Scott got some shots that pretty much secured the ID. Today, I finally, along with Lee Hunter and Debbie Powell got some good shots of the female which I believe clinch the ID. Though we had a couple of opportunities this afternoon to photograph her, we still (at the time I left) never got a shot from her belly, only her back. Having seen all the needed field marks, we didn’t have to get a pic of the vent, but it would have been nice. I’ve attached my best shot with Common Redpolls for comparison. Note how the scapulars are extensively edged in white, giving the “frosty” appearance to the bird. Scott welcomes visitors to his feeders at 1071 South Road at the Bashakill if you would like to try for this bird. My best luck with seeing it has been in the late afternoon. Good Luck!

Identifying a Hoary Redpoll: The bird should be paler than a common redpoll, almost a frosty coloring sometimes nearly white in bright light. The bill should be smaller than a Common Redpoll often with a steep forehead giving the bird a blunt faced look in comparison to Commons. The vent should be white, with very few (two or less) streaks. The rump should be white, with no streaking in the central rump at all. If you have most of these characteristics, you likely have a Hoary Redpoll.

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