Arctic Redpoll vs Common Redpoll: What’s the Differences?

by Victor
Arctic redpoll

Bird enthusiasts and ornithologists are often captivated by the diverse and fascinating species found in the avian world. Among them, the redpolls, a group of small passerine birds, are particularly intriguing. Two distinct members of this group, the Arctic Redpoll (Acanthis hornemanni) and the Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), exhibit both similarities and differences that require closer examination to fully appreciate their unique characteristics. In this article, we explore the dissimilarities between these two redpoll species, shedding light on their physical attributes, geographic distribution, and behavioral traits.

Physical Characteristics:

Size: One of the key distinctions between Arctic Redpolls and Common Redpolls lies in their size. Arctic Redpolls are generally larger, measuring around 15 centimeters in length, whereas Common Redpolls tend to be slightly smaller, averaging about 13 centimeters.

Plumage: The plumage of these redpoll species also exhibits notable variations. Arctic Redpolls possess a paler overall coloration, including a whitish rump and undertail coverts, with less pronounced streaking on their flanks. In contrast, Common Redpolls feature more extensive streaking on their flanks and a darker, reddish hue on their breast.

Bill Size: Another physical distinction is observed in the size of their bills. Arctic Redpolls tend to have longer and more substantial bills compared to Common Redpolls, which exhibit shorter and more delicate bills.

Geographic Distribution:

Arctic Redpolls: As the name suggests, Arctic Redpolls primarily inhabit the Arctic regions, including northern parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are commonly found in tundra habitats, particularly during the breeding season.

Common Redpolls: In contrast, Common Redpolls have a wider distribution range, extending across the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They can also be found in forested areas, scrublands, and even urban environments.

Behavioral Traits:

Feeding Habits: Both Arctic Redpolls and Common Redpolls have similar feeding habits, relying predominantly on a diet of seeds, particularly those of birch and alder trees. They are skilled acrobats, adept at extracting seeds from cones and hanging seed heads.

Vocalizations: While both species emit distinctive vocalizations, Arctic Redpolls have a higher-pitched call compared to Common Redpolls. Their calls can vary depending on the context, including breeding displays and territorial defense.

Migration Patterns: Both species exhibit migratory behavior, with populations moving south during winter in search of more favorable feeding grounds. However, Arctic Redpolls tend to undertake longer and more extensive migrations, often venturing farther into the northern regions than Common Redpolls.

Conservation Status:

Both Arctic Redpolls and Common Redpolls are generally considered to be of least concern in terms of conservation status. However, ongoing monitoring of their populations is crucial due to potential environmental changes affecting their preferred habitats.


Understanding the differences between Arctic Redpolls and Common Redpolls allows bird enthusiasts and researchers to appreciate the unique characteristics of these remarkable species. While they share similarities in their feeding habits and migratory patterns, their distinct physical attributes, geographic distribution, and subtle behavioral variations set them apart. By preserving their habitats and monitoring their populations, we can continue to appreciate the beauty and diversity of these enchanting redpoll species for generations to come.

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