Redpoll: Adapted to Gorging

Common Redpoll - Fairbanks, Alaska

These redpolls, and many more, are coming to our feeder lately in droves.   I’ve started putting seed out one or two times a day instead of letting them gorge themselves at the feeder nonstop.  I don’t want to test it out but I would be willing to bet they could empty the  entire contents of the feeder in only one day. (It’s on the small side but can still fit at least a quart jar’s worth of sunflower hearts.)

It’s unbelievable how much they can eat.  My guess as to how many birds visit the feeder per day is perhaps 30 to 40, though it could be upwards of 100 or more stopping by once a day (or less often).

Actually, they aren’t eating most of the seed.  Apparently they store it in their “esophageal diverticulum” and regurgitate it later to eat in peace.

Redpoll - Fairbanks, Alaska

These two”on-alert” fine fellows might actually be females (lack of red on their chests).

Once late May and June arrive, the birds practically disappear, so even if they are acting like little piggies at the trough right now, we still enjoy them!

6 responses

  1. Chancy and Mumsy

    Beautiful little birds and fantastic shots.

    April 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm

  2. Sharon Holdinghausen

    It must be so awsome to look out you window and see all the cute birds in your feeder. Thanks for sharing the pics.

    April 8, 2013 at 5:27 am

  3. These redpolls, and many more, are coming to our feeder lately in droves.
    <disclaimer>I’m a phlyarologist, not an ornithologist</disclaimer>
    I’m interested as to whether this behaviour you report on the part of these winged dinosaur-descendants is normal for your locale — if it’s particularly unusual, this could well be another sign of the impact that climate change is having on our world. (And if that is the case, I hope your flappy friends find a new home without too much distress.)

    April 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

    • I do see evidence of climate change here in Alaska but repolls start feeding like this every year at this time (and sometimes throughout the winter too). I should have pointed that out in the post…! 🙂

      April 15, 2013 at 2:40 am

      • Ah, ok. Good to hear, actually, since it means your birdies aren’t stressed 🙂

        I’m ever conscious of the possibility of confirmation bias (ie, looking for evidence to support a theory and ignoring stuff that doesn’t fit). You know, the thing the climate change deniers do all the time…

        April 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      • too true!

        April 16, 2013 at 3:59 am

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