[order] Passeriformes | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis hornemanni | [UK] Arctic Redpoll | [FR] Sizerin blanchâtre | [DE] Polarbirkenzeisig | [ES] Pardillo de Hornemann | [IT] Organetto artico | [NL] Witstuitbarmsijs

Witstuitbarmsijs determination

copyright: H. Schenkel-Brunner

Size varies considerably: main Holarctic race exilipes similar to north Eurasian and North American race of Redpoll but often looking plumper, particularly around neck; Baffin Island and Greenland race, C. h. hornemanni (Hornemann‘s Redpoll), up to 10% larger, exceeding Greenland race of Redpoll and overlapping with Twite. Small but long, ghostly finch, with similar behaviour and flight to northern races of Redpoll, but rather loose plumage much greyer above and whiter below. Rump of adult and 1st-winter male white and usually unmarked. Plumage pattern of adult and 1st winter male like Redpoll but buff tones restricted to head, pale supercilium more marked, ear-coverts paler, wing marks white and more contrasting, long rump pure white, and underparts white and far less streaked. Juvenile and some 1st-winter females much closer in appearance to northern race of Redpoll, showing streaked rump but less streaked paler underparts, especially below tail. Bill stubby, particularly in exilipes, and partly hidden by profuse feathering at base of bill.

Distinguishable from that of Redpoll only by being confined to more northerly Arctic latitudes, where, however, the need for some kind of dwarf willow or other shrub growth remains indispensable in breeding season. In winter, main population remains in or near breeding latitudes, coping with night temperatures down to c. -60°C in central Alaska, and foraging for as long as possible in low light available. This degree of hardiness is all the more surprising since closely related forms of Redpoll inhabiting temperate climates quite commonly move south in winter, even to Mediterranean regions.

Loxia leucoptera is a widespread resident in the boreal zone of Russia and Fennoscandia, with Europe accounting for less than a quarter of its global range. Its European breeding population is very large (>1,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. The species remained broadly stable overall during 1990-2000, with fluctuations in Russia, Sweden and Norway, and increases in Finland.

Diet comprises small seeds, particularly birch, alder, willow, various herbs, and grasses; some small invertebrates in summer; probably very similar to that of Redpoll. Forages in trees like Redpoll; in snow, above all in winter, when one of very few passerines to remain in Arctic, foraging restricted to scrub, tall herbs and catkins above snow, seeds on surface, snow-free patches at coasts or on windy slopes, roadsides, and rubbish tips.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 26,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Nest is built in dwarf tree or shrub, almost always willow, poplar, birch, or alder; in crotch or on branch or twigs generally close to trunk, almost always less than c. 2 m above ground, though usually in upper part of shrub. Nest is a robust structure with foundation of small twigs, bark, stems, roots, grass, catkins, etc., warmly lined with hair, fur, plant down, and many feathers, especially white ones of grouse; lining sometimes only of feathers, and often higher than outer wall. Clutch: 4-5 (3-7), incubation 11-12 days and fledging period 10-12 days.

Sedentary to migratory, wintering chiefly within breeding range in Europe, but frther S in Asia. In Europe, migrates S-W on fairly narrow front, with western populations progressively further east. Winter visitors greatly augment populations of W and S Europe, and regularly reach North Africa. Migrates by day in flocks, most actively in morning hours, sometimes in company with Brambling.