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Number of species: 80

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Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea

There is considerable variation in appearance of Common Redpolls, including within age and sex classes. As such, while extent of pinkish plumage can be suggestive of age and sex, it is advisable to always check the wing and tail for additional clues, especially for individuals with an intermediate amount of colouration.

Ageing and sexing of Common Redpolls is complicated to some extent by the occurrence of two subspecies. Descriptions are based primarily on the more widespread flammea subspecies; generally the notes also apply to the larger rostrata subspecies, but it tends to be somewhat darker, and with somewhat less extensive pink/red

Quick Tips:

  • Consider the overall plumage - individuals with particularly extensive red and pink patches are usually AHY/ASY males, while individuals lacking red aside from the crown are typically HY/SY females; intermediates may be HY/SY males or AHY/ASY females
  • Examine the wing - HY/SY birds usually have a molt limit among the greater coverts (occasionally between the median and greater coverts, or between the greater and primary coverts); AHY/ASY birds lack a molt limit
  • Look at the outer rectrices - they are narrow and distinctly pointed at the tip on HY/SY birds, and somewhat broader and more rounded on AHY/ASY birds

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Male
Light to moderate extent of pink on breast and flanks; molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively narrow and pointed
Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79919-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3198.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79919-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3196.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79919-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3197.jpg
Date: Dec 7
Hatch year / Female
Pink limited to absent on cheeks, flanks, breast, and rump; molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively narrow and pointed; may have very broad dark centres to undertail coverts
Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79927-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3192.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79927-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3190.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79927-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3191.jpg
Date: Dec 7
After hatch year / Female
Light to moderate extent of pink on breast and flanks; no molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79935-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3189.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79935-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3187.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79935-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3188.jpg
Date: Dec 14
Second year / Male
Light to moderate extent of pink on breast and flanks; molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively narrow and pointed
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45051-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3228.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45051-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3226.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45051-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3227.jpg
Date: Mar 22
Second year / Female
Pink limited to absent on cheeks, flanks, breast, and rump; molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively narrow and pointed; may have very broad dark centres to undertail coverts
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25770-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3219.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25770-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3217.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25770-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3218.jpg
Date: Mar 13
After second year / Male
Breast and flanks predominantly pink/red; no molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25774-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3213.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25774-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3211.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-25774-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3212.jpg
Date: Mar 13
After second year / Female
Light to moderate extent of pink on breast and flanks; no molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45050-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3204.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45050-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3202.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-45050-Acanthis_flammea_AOU_7_52-3203.jpg
Date: Mar 22

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Largely brown, lacking red on crown and black on throat
After hatch year / Male Breast and flanks predominantly pink/red; no molt limit among greater coverts; outer rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Number of species: 80

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