How to Attract Redpolls
Redpolls belong to the finch family, so many of their traits, including size, shape and behavior, are similar to other finches. For example, redpolls tend to be frisky flyers and quirky acrobats, frequently clinging to tree trunks and twigs at all sorts of angles when feeding or sitting for a quick perch.
Redpolls are lovely little birds to watch, and there are many things that birders can do to help attract more redpolls to the yard. Just be sure to know what you’re looking for!
See also: All About Nyjer
The most noticeable distinction that redpolls show off is a bright red dab on the top of the head, thus the name redpoll (‘poll’ is an antiquated word for ‘head’). The ruby red crown is the easiest way to spot a redpoll in the yard and tell it apart from other finches. Body color, on the other hand, can vary among redpolls. For example, the Common Redpoll has brown body feathers with heavy streaking, while the Hoary Redpoll has whitish body feathers with minimal streaking.
This variation in body color and patterning has led to quite the conversation on categorizing different redpoll species. Just how many redpoll species are there? Even ornithologists can’t agree! And they may not need to debate much longer. Though some scientists have argued for the existence of up to 8 redpoll species, new DNA research suggests that there are no genetic differences between different redpoll types, meaning all redpolls are the same species with just slight variations in gene expression.
Whether you’re a redpoll purist or you’re looking to track redpolls in all their various color patterns, most birders can agree that redpolls are fun to observe and relatively easy to spot. When you create a positive, supportive atmosphere for finches, you’re likely to enjoy a wonderful show. Take a look at these top tips for attracting redpolls to the yard.
Get Finch-Friendly Feeders
Because of their dynamic perching practices, redpolls can benefit from feeders that cater to fidgety finch behavior. Since finches are fond of feeding in groups, long tube feeders built with several perches are excellent for accommodating multiple redpolls at once. Also, be on the lookout for feeders with mesh screens, which provide ample texture for redpolls to grab onto and clench – whether right-side-up or upside-down.
Tiny Seeds for Tiny Bills
Unlike blue jays or woodpeckers, redpolls have tiny bills, so they require smaller seed. In the wild, redpolls are drawn to birch and alder seed. With that said, nyjer seed, also called thistle, tends to be more readily available for birders to purchase, and setting out these smaller seeds is a great way to attract redpolls to backyard feeders.
See also: 8 Helpful Hints for Attracting Finches
Refill Feeders – Often
Another big tip: refill your feeders every day, as these little birds are notorious for having huge appetites. In fact, redpolls generally eat 40% of their body weight each day. So if you really want the redpolls to stick around, be sure to stock up on seed and keep the feeders full! If you’re not an early bird yourself, fill up the feeders before you hit the hay so the redpolls aren’t wondering where the seed is at sunrise.
Leave a Bit of Brush around the Yard
This last tip for attracting redpolls is great news for those who don’t stress over keeping the yard totally tidy. These small finches tend to flock to groundcover and brush, and they will often seek out twiggy, low-lying shrubs for nesting and resting. So, if you’ve got overgrown hedges or a scraggly stack of branches piled up in the yard, there’s no need to sweat! Chances are the redpolls will relish those messy spots in the yard, as they can provide great shelter and safe spaces to rest.
With their bright ruby caps and funny finch behaviors, redpolls are a delight to watch. By providing adequate seed and shelter, you can attract more of these charming little birds to the yard!