Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A couple of Redpoll additions

On the MOU website: a Hoary photo Here from Minnesota (where Hoary is expected and the threshold is low) of a pale Hoary-type with a relatively long bill

Some other recent Hoary photos from Michigan - scroll left and right to see about 5 shots

From Ontario this photo and the two following show a very small-billed Hoary


Andy Dettling said...


Michigan birder would be interested in your thoughts on the photos that you have a link to here.

I saw the bird today. It is a lifer for me so I have no experience with Hoary but by looking over your guide I was a bit concerned about the bill size. Is there a lot of variation in bill size? I expected this bird to stand out but a group of birders had to be careful and look over each light colored bird.

Anyway, we would appreciate your thoughts.

Here is the link if you need it

Andy Dettling
Canton, MI

David Sibley said...

Hi Andy,

I think this bird is well within the "safe" zone for Hoary. The overall appearance of back, underparts, and head is pale and grayish, or "frosty" looking. The few distinct dark streaks on the sides of the breast fading to faint pale lines on the flanks are outside the range of variation of Common. Even adult male Commons (which have reduced streaking) still show dark streaks along the flanks. The bill looks about the same size as the Common next to it, which is fine for Hoary, and in a couple of views it looks fluffy around the forehead. It also has very limited dark color around the base of the bill, both on the chin and the forehead, which is variable but when it is as limited as this it is another good indicator of the overall paleness. I have no reservations about calling this a Hoary.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Thanks for you numerous posts on the Hoary vs. Common Redpoll question. I have linked to the initial post at my blog at
If you have a moment, I have a number of photographs of a potential Hoary Redpoll. I've asked local birders for their thoughts, and I'd be honored to have you weigh in on the bird as well.
Thanks in advance.