Acanthis flammea flammea

Status:  Uncommon regular winter visitor north, east, and west, rare south.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM7139, 11 Dec 1895 Crawford, Dawes Co.

Taxonomy:  Taxonomy is complex and various authorities present differing views (Pyle 1997, Chesser et al 2009, Gill and Donsker 2017, Clements et al 2016, Knox and Lowther 2020). A common approach is to recognize two subspecies, flammea, breeding in northern Europe, Siberia, Alaska and Canada, and rostrata, (including islandica) breeding in northeast Canada, Greenland and Iceland. Subspecies cabaret, breeding in the British Isles east to western Eurasia, is often treated as a separate species, Lesser Redpoll.

A recent proposal to AOU to lump the redpolls (AOU 2016), including Common and Hoary Redpolls, has not yet been voted upon (April 2018).

The widespread North American subspecies flammea has been documented in Nebraska (Rapp et al 1958). The larger northeastern subspecies rostrata, breeding in Greenland and Baffin Island, occurs casually in winter to Colorado and Iowa (AOU 1957, DuMont 1934), but is undocumented in Nebraska.

Winter:  Oct 24, 24, 24 <<<>>> Mar 29, 29, 30

In years when Common Redpolls are present, arrival is in mid-Nov, although an earlier date is 7 Oct 1987 Knox/Antelope Cos, when 20 were seen (Williams 1988,

Later dates are 2 Apr 2015 Scotts Bluff Co, 15 Apr 2018 Dawes Co, and 23 Apr 2018 Seward Co.

CBC data show that most Common Redpolls are in northern and western Nebraska in late Dec. The largest CBC peak in terms of birds per party-hour was 1977-1978 with 0.96 and 309 counted; the 2012-2013 influx reached 0.58 with 272 counted. The major incursion of 2012-2013 had about 1500 birds reported statewide.

High CBC counts are 303 at Crawford 1977-78, 239 at DeSoto NWR 29 Dec 2012, 230 at Greeley 1969-70 and 176 at Calamus-Loup 31 Dec 2012. None were reported on CBCs in about a third of the years since 1966.

  • High counts:  800 in Dawes Co 18 Mar 1978 (Williams 1978), 400 in Holt Co 1 Mar 1973 (Williams 1972), 350 in Cherry Co 8 Mar 2013, and “several hundred” in Boone Co 3-6 Feb 1982 (Williams 1982).


AOU: American Ornithologists’ Union
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
NWR: National Wildlife Refuge
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum


Photograph (top) of a Common Redpoll at Papillion, Sarpy Co 15 Mar 2013 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1957. The AOU Check-list of North American birds, 5th ed.  Port City Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU].   2016. AOU Classification Committee – North and Middle America Proposal Set 2016-A 10 Nov 2015.

Chesser, R.T., R.C. Banks, F.K. Barker, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2009. Fiftieth Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 126: 705-714.

Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, accessed 30 January 2018.

DuMont, P.A. 1934. A revised list of the birds of Iowa. Studies in Natural History 15 (5), University of Iowa Studies, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

Gill, F., and D. Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird List (v 7.3), accessed 30 January 2018.

Knox, A.G. and P.E. Lowther. 2020. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.

Williams, F. 1972. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 26: 624-626.

Williams, F. 1978. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 32: 1024-1028.

Williams, F. 1982. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 36: 307-309.

Williams, F. 1988. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 42: 96-100.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 30 Jan 2021