The Redpolls are a group of small passerine
A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with over 5,000 identified species, it has roughly...

Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s in the finch
The true finches are passerine birds in the family Fringillidae. They are predominantly seed-eating songbirds. Most are native to the Northern Hemisphere, but one subfamily is endemic to the Neotropics, one to the Hawaiian Islands, and one subfamily – monotypic at genus level – is found...

 family Fringillidae which have characteristic red markings on their heads. They were formerly placed into the genus Acanthis together with the linnet
The Linnet is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.The Linnet derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made.- Description :...

s and the twite
The Twite is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.The Twite is a small finch, similar in size and shape to a Linnet. Birds of the subspecies flavirostris are long, and those of the subspecies altaica are long. It lacks the red head patch and breast shown by the Linnet and the...

, but their closest relatives are actually the crossbills, that are placed in the genus Loxia. The latter genus could be merged with Carduelis
The genus Carduelisis a large group of birds in the finch family Fringillidae. It includes the greenfinches, redpolls, goldfinches, linnets, the twite, and the non-African siskins...

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
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

 are evolutionarily quite peculiar, it would be better to reinstate Acanthis instead, including only the redpolls. There are several different very closely related forms of redpolls which could be considered as anything from one to five species. Recent studies 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
The tits, chickadees, and titmice constitute Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur in the northern hemisphere and Africa...

; 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
    Arctic Redpoll
    The Arctic Redpoll , known in North America as the Hoary Redpoll, is a bird species in the finch family Fringillidae. It breeds in tundra birch forest. It has two subspecies, C. h. hornemanni of Greenland and neighbouring parts of Canada, and C. h...

    , Carduelis hornemanni (subspecies
    Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

     C. h. hornemanni (Greenland Arctic Redpoll) and C. h. exilipes (Hoary Redpoll))
  • Common Redpoll
    Common Redpoll
    The Common Redpoll is a species in the finch family. It breeds somewhat further south than the Arctic Redpoll, also in habitats with thickets or shrubs. Nominate C. f. flammea breeds across the northern parts of North America and Eurasia. There is also an Icelandic subspecies, Icelandic Redpoll...

    , Carduelis flammea (Nominate C. f. flammea (Mealy Redpoll); subspecies C. f. islandica (Icelandic Redpoll) and C. f. rostrata (Greenland Redpoll))
  • Lesser Redpoll
    Lesser Redpoll
    The Lesser Redpoll is a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Carduelis in the finch family, Fringillidae. It is the smallest, brownest and most streaked of the redpolls...

    , Carduelis cabaret

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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