South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Common Redpoll

Carduelis flammea

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8.25 inches Seasonality: Winter / Migrant
ID Keys: Red cap, black chin patch, short stubby bill, pink wash on chest (male), dark brown streaks on sides

Common Redpoll - Carduelis flammeaThe Common Redpoll breeds in the Arctic, but is an irregular winter migrant to southern Canada and the northern United States.  They are well adapted to cold climates, even having a small pouch in their throat where they can store food, allowing them to dart out into the cold and collect a large amount of food, and then return to a protected perch to slowly ingest it.  They will often visit bird feeders, where they are often extremely tame.

Habitat: Uses brushy areas for breeding, such as forest clearings, forest edges, thickets of dwarf birch or willow, and shrubby areas on the tundra.  Can be found in a variety of semi-open habitats during the winter.  

Diet: Primarily feeds on seeds. Also will take buds, catkins, and insects.

Behavior: Forages at all levels vegetation and also on the ground.   Gregarious, usually foraging in flocks outside of the nesting season. 

Breeding Map: Non-breeder in South Dakota.  The nest of a Common Redpoll is a cup of grasses, small twigs, mosses, and feathers.  The female usually lays 4 or 5 eggs, and she does all of the incubating.  When the eggs hatch, the female does most of the feeding of the young. The young fledge after about 2 weeks.

Song: A trilling followed by a bubbly twittering. 

Migration: Summers in northern Canada and Alaska up through the Arctic Circle.  In winter, they are very irregular migrants, moving only short distances southward during some winters, and moving well into the continental United States in other winters.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Common Redpoll sightings

Similar Species: Hoary Redpoll Click here for a page that shows both species and highlights differences.

Conservation Status: Seems to be generally stable throughout its normal range, with no major conservation concerns.  The IUCN lists the Common Redpoll as a species of "Least Concern".

Bird Feeders: Will come to feeders for sunflower seeds, millet, and niger ("thistle") seed.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Common Redpoll

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Redpoll"

3) Common Redpoll

Photo Information: December 2004 - Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Redpoll photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Common Redpoll - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Irregular winter visitor, most common in the northern part of the state.