Common Redpoll in Oulu, Finland
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Carduelis (but see article text)
Subgenus: Acanthis

Carduelis flammea
Carduelis cabaret
Carduelis hornemanni

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.[1] 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[2] forms of redpolls which could be considered as anything from one to five species.[3] Recent studies[4][5] 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 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 the Arctic Redpoll, a large bush. They can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixed with other finches.

The species are:

  • Arctic Redpoll, Carduelis hornemanni (subspecies C. h. hornemanni (Greenland Arctic Redpoll) and C. h. exilipes (Hoary Redpoll))
  • Common Redpoll, Carduelis flammea (Nominate C. f. flammea (Mealy Redpoll); subspecies C. f. islandica (Icelandic Redpoll) and C. f. rostrata (Greenland Redpoll))
  • Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis cabaret


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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. doi:10.2307/2410418 (HTML abstract and first page image)
  3. ^ Knox, A. G. (1988): The taxonomy of redpolls. Ardea 76(1): 1–26.
  4. ^ Herremans, M. 1990. Taxonomy and evolution in Redpolls Carduelis flammea – hornemanni; a multivariate study of their biometry. Ardea 78(3): 441–458. HTML abstract
  5. ^ Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. Ibis 144(1): 153–159. doi:10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x PDF fulltext

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.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Redpoll — Red poll ( p?l ), n. (Zo[ o]l.) (a) Any one of several species of small northern finches of the genus {Acanthis} (formerly {[AE]giothus}), native of Europe and America. The adults have the crown red or rosy. The male of the most common species… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • redpoll — [red′pōl΄] n. [ RED + POLL] any of a number of finches (genus Acanthis) with a red patch on the head and a black chin …   English World dictionary

  • redpoll — /ˈrɛdpoʊl/ (say redpohl) noun 1. either of two small Northern Hemisphere fringilline birds of the genus Carduelis, the adults of which usually have a crimson crown patch, the common redpoll, C. flammea, and the hoary redpoll, C. hornemanni. 2.… …   Australian English dictionary

  • redpoll — čivyliai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Carduelis angl. greenfinch; linnet; redpoll; siskin vok. Hänfling, m rus. чечётка, f ryšiai: platesnis terminas – čivyliai siauresnis terminas – amerikinis alksninukas siauresnis… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • redpoll — noun Date: 1738 either of two small finches (genus Carduelis syn. Acanthis of the family Fringillidae) having brownish streaked plumage and a red or rosy crown; especially one (C. flammea) found in northern regions of both the New and Old World …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • redpoll — /red pohl /, n. either of two small fringilline birds, Carduelis flammea or C. hornemanni, of northern North America and Eurasia, the adults of which have a crimson crown patch. [1730 40; RED1 + POLL1] * * * …   Universalium

  • redpoll — noun a) Any of various finches in the genus Carduelis, which have characteristic red markings on their heads. b) A red haired woman …   Wiktionary

  • redpoll — [ rɛdpəʊl] noun 1》 a mainly brown finch with a red forehead, related to the linnet. [Acanthis flammea.] 2》 (red poll) an animal of a breed of red haired polled cattle …   English new terms dictionary

  • redpoll — red•poll [[t]ˈrɛdˌpoʊl[/t]] n. orn either of two finches, Carduelis flammea or C. hornemanni, of N North America and Eurasia, having streaked brown plumage with a crimson crown patch • Etymology: 1730–40 …   From formal English to slang

  • redpoll — n. a finch, Acanthis flammea, with a red forehead, similar to a linnet …   Useful english dictionary

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