Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Common Redpoll Irruption

Common Redpoll, photo by Lew Ulrey, Boise Idaho
Recently, all across the blogosphere and listservs, birding folk have been reporting Common Redpolls, a bird I had never seen before. I've unsuccessfully chased redpolls a few times and as such it has become a nemesis bird for me. They've made brief appearances at feeders in the greater Boise area over the last couple of days. I begged each reporter to keep an eye on them for me and to let me know if they were sticking around.

On the way back from a job site up in Avimor, in the Boise foothills, I decided to drive along the creek and checkout any flocks of finches for redpolls. Directing my loaner Swarovski EL Swarovision 10x32's into a tree where I saw some small goldfinch-sized birds I was delighted to instantly see four Common Redpolls! Life bird #445. Also my 300th species for the year!

I watched them for a few minutes while still inside my truck. Then I wanted a photo, so I carefully slipped out of the truck with the spotting scope and iPhone. Suddenly, a Northern Shrike darted into the tree after my Redpolls. It missed, but my Redpolls took off while a flock of A. Goldfinches began mobbing the Shrike. So, no photos, but pretty cool to see a life bird and always cool to see a Shrike. A great Idaho eBirder, Lew Ulrey snapped the shot above at his feeder yesterday and he was a gentleman allowing me to share his photo here.

Common Redpolls do appear to be having an irruption year into the lower 48 states along with Red-breasted Nuthatches, Evening Grosbeaks, Crossbills, and Pine Grosbeaks.
Common Redpoll sightings from eBird for Fall 2012
Tomorrow I head north, up to Hells Canyon (Lewiston, ID - Clarkston, WA) for some fishing with my dad and some friends. Folks in that area having been reporting a couple Snowy Owls and a Gyrfalcon. I'd be happy to get a couple more life birds this year!


  1. What a productive week! Picking up life birds as a part of work trips is a good way to do it!
    Logging a Snowy and Gyrfalcon on a fishing trip...that's gotta be tops.

  2. ...glad you saw the Redpolls (and added to your life list). I'm on the lookout for them here! Good luck with the Snowy Owls and Gyrfalcon. That would be amazing!

  3. Nice work:) With one nemesis out of the picture, who will replace?:) If you see another Redpoll, let them know they can stop on down to Arizona for a vacation:) I've got some nice bird feeders here in Tucson.

  4. Congratulations on the life bird, Robert! I'm still searching for my first Common Redpoll. They really are beautiful birds. I hope you get to see some Snowy Owls and the Gyrfalcon at Hells Canyon!