Hardy Redpolls

Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
February 14, 2018

What animal can withstand -65 degree F temperatures, has a pouch in their esophagus to store food and digs tunnels in the snow? The answer is the common redpoll, a small passerine bird about half the size of your fist. These little, hardy birds spend their winters in the arctic tundra and boreal forest. While they may spend their entire lives in the far north, they migrate erratically, following seed supplies. It is not a common sight here, but currently at Wolf Ridge there are dozens of this beautiful, red-headed bird flocking to the feeders by the Education Building and the Science Center.

Both the male and female have red patches on their heads, but the females are a tawny, striped brown on the rest of their bodies, while the males have red-streaking on their breasts. With the name “redpoll” meaning “red headed” in Old English, they are aptly named. The common redpolls at Wolf Ridge are enjoying a relative heatwave compared to their deep-wintering grounds, and can be seen flocking in large groups around the thistle feeders.
by Allison Hren