shrike07's picture

Redpoll, Morpeth

Observed: 21st December 2010 By: shrike07shrike07’s reputation in Birdsshrike07’s reputation in Birdsshrike07’s reputation in Birdsshrike07’s reputation in Birds
Species interactions

No interactions present.


ophrys's picture


...looks quite large and Mealy-like, too. Not great photos to start a Coues's debate, though!

In some circles, it seems like every pale Mealy is up for discussion as a Coues's, at the moment. This winter has been a fantastic opportunity to get to grips with the ID of Redpoll species and races, though.
Locally to me, Mealies have far outnumbered Lessers.

Let's hope for another similar year, soon!


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RoyW's picture

"In some circles, it seems

"In some circles, it seems like every pale Mealy is up for discussion as a Coues's, at the moment."
I see nothing wrong with that (and I doubt that you really see it as a problem either!). The fact is that redpolls this pale could potentially be Coues's Arctic Redpolls, and it is perhaps natural to hope that you've found the rarer species!
These are a confusing group, with considerable overlap between species/races, and frequent discussion can only help to reduce confusion (...eventually!).

The photos don't show the best of angles from which to assess features like the bill size/shape, but it does seem fairly long. The streaking on the flanks is also very heavy - so from these photos I would agree with Mealy. Personally I would expect most Mealies to show far more distinct streaking on the central undertail coverts (I'm not convinced that there is really anything there at all on this bird), but this feature is variable, and an absence of streaking doesn't rule out Mealy.

I wish I could say that I've had plenty of opportunity to observe Mealies this winter - they've been around, but only in fairly small numbers in the south-east (I've seen one this winter - but quite a lot of Lessers).

ophrys's picture

Undertail alia.

I don't see discussion of Coues's as a problem at all! I do think, though, that some people have been happy to tick Coues's without prolonged views, when some of the Mealies locally have been very pale indeed (probably paler than many young Coues's).

I have ringed a few Redpolls, this winter, both Lesser and Mealy, and have found the undertail coverts very variable. Even though Lessers have quite heavy streaking on them, it is surprising how easily that can be covered up and so appear all white, if feathers get moved out of place. If that can happen with Lesser, it can certainly happen with Mealy. The rump I have found more useful, but some of the local Mealies have had a very white rump indeed.

A very interesting bird, the Redpoll. A good series of photos can be found in many places on the web, but worth a look is those ringed by Bucktonbirder, recently.


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