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, Mason and Taylor 2015, Clements et al 2016, Knox and Lowther 2020, Funk et al 2021). Despite a detailed study by Mason and Taylor (2015) that showed much genetic commonality among the several taxa, a common current approach is to divide the redpolls into three species. A recent proposal to AOU to lump the redpolls (AOU 2016), including Common and Hoary Redpolls, has not yet been voted upon (April 2018); there is some evidence of assortative mating between flammea and hornemanni , “tempering the urge to lump” (Gill et al 2021). The three-species approach is exemplified in Gill et al (2021), recognizing Lesser Redpoll, A. cabaret, of Europe, Hoary Redpoll A. hornemanni, and Common Redpoll A. flammea.
Most recently, however, a genome-based study by Funk et al (2021) concluded that all redpoll forms comprise a single species with minimal genetic variation between them. These authors proposed that a single “supergene”, common to all redpoll forms, controls expression of phenotype characters through “environmental selection”; the integrity and function of the “supergene” is balanced by this environmental selection.
Within Common Redpoll two subspecies have been generally recognized (Gill et al 2021), flammea, breeding in northern Europe, Siberia, Alaska and Canada, and rostrata, (including islandica) breeding in northeast Canada, Greenland and Iceland.
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, eBird.org).
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. In winter 2021-2022, the distribution of redpolls across the state was split, with moderate numbers in the northeast, none in the central, and much higher numbers in the west, especially in Dec, where best counts were an impressive 205 at Wind Springs Ranch, Sioux Co 3 Dec and 135 on Toadstool Road, Sioux Co 18 Dec whereas in the east, the only double-digit count was 11 near Newcastle, Dixon Co 5 Feb.
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. 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.
- 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).
- The major incursion of 2012-2013 had about 1500 birds reported statewide.
AOU: American Ornithologists’ Union
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
NWR: National Wildlife Refuge
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
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.
Funk, E.R., N.A. Mason, S. Pálsson, T. Albrecht, J.A. Johnson, and S.A. Taylor. A supergene underlies linked variation in color and morphology in a Holarctic songbird. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27173-z
Gill, F., and D. Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird List (v 7.3), accessed 30 January 2018.
Gill, F., D. Donsker, and P. Rasmussen (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v 11.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.11.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
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. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.comred.01.
Mason, N.A. ,and S.A. Taylor. 2015. Differentially expressed genes match bill morphology and plumage despite largely undifferentiated genomes in a Holarctic songbird. Molecular Ecology 24: 3009–3025.
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.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2022. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 2 Apr 2022