This week I want to send out an alert and request for reports of common redpolls in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. This species is one player in a “winter finch” invasion that is playing out in parts of the southeastern United States.
I wrote about the anticipated movement of northern finches into our area back in the late fall. There is a group of finches that in some years will move far south of normal wintering grounds.
Species involved can include common redpolls, evening grosbeaks, red crossbills, white-winged crossbills, purple finches and pine siskins.
Siskins and purple finches have been well represented at local feeders this winter. Local birders are now watching for rare species to come to feeders as natural food is depleted.
The occurrence of redpolls in North Carolina is an extremely rare event. There are just a few records documented from the state, and none from Mecklenburg County. I would love for one of my readers to be able to document one.
I have heard of two reports of redpolls from the area so far. Each report involved a single bird that stayed just briefly before moving on – typical for this nomadic species.
If you are not familiar with common redpolls, consult a field guide. You will see they are tiny brown-streaked finches with a red patch right on top of the head. The males will have a beautiful rose wash on the upper breast.
If you have good numbers of pine siskins and American goldfinches, study them carefully for redpolls. If they are associating with a flock of these species, they may be more likely to stick around a bit.
I was lucky enough to see one of these winter gems last week while on the Outer Banks, but I am eager to see one in this area. I feel sure there are some visiting feeders right now.
Do not neglect to look for the other species I mentioned. Any species other than purple finch, house finch or pine siskin will be a significant report. I look forward to hearing from you soon.