Redpolls from Barrow, October 2018

A fascinating place to watch redpolls is Barrow, in the north part of Alaska. Are the redpolls in this remote arctic place Mealy Redpolls (flammea) or Coues’s Arctic Redpolls (exilipes)? Good question!

Barrow is hosting a very good feeder: Mike’s feeder is best in town, you’ll find here all local redpolls. During my trip to Barrow (first 2 weeks of October 2018) for Ross’s Gulls, I spent about an hour every day studying and photographing redpolls. I counted circa 25 redpolls every day and it was surprising that these little creatures were all in adult plumage (except one). During my stay in Barrow in June 2015 I found breeding Coues’s Arctic Redpolls, a fledged juvenile and some second calendar year Coues’s Arctic Redpolls.

Barrow 18 R9A4310
Mike's feeders.

During my stay in October 2018, most of the redpolls had a white rump and quite dark flank streaking, not remarkable pale and overall quite ‘buff‘.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A8910
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

The question arises whether these are all Coues’s Arctic Redpolls? Some of them are certainly Mealy Redpolls. And some of them are Coues’s Arctic Redpolls, despite their buff appearance and flank streaking. It’s because these birds just completed their moulting. Their feathers are fresh, without any wear. When these birds will be a few weeks older, they will be lesser buff because the wear of the feathers. The flank streaking will probably also disappear a bit.

Grote barmsijs 18 Z9A1074
Mealy Redpoll, adult male.

Grote barmsijs 18 Z9A8842
Mealy Redpoll, adult female. A dark bird that looks almost like a Greenland Redpoll, but too small in size.

Then there are still some redpolls left. I’d call them ‘in between’. These birds have a white rump, but on the edges some streaking and too much flank streaking. I leave these redpolls undefined. Probably these birds are hybrid between Mealy and Coues’s Arctic Redpolls...

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A1819
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A0857
Coues’s Arctic Redpolls, adult (probably female and male).

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A1706
‘In between’-redpoll (adult), or perhaps even a Mealy Redpoll.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A1951
‘In between’-redpoll (?), adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A2062
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A2184
‘In between’-redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A4224
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A4247
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, first winter.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A6257
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A6289
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A7174
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A7223
Coues’s Arctic Redpolls, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A7366
‘In between’-barmsijs, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A8830
Mealy Redpoll, adult (left) and Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult (right).

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A9917
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.

Witstuitbarmsijs 18 Z9A9952
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, adult.


More info about redpolls? See my redpoll overview.