Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)

The Arctic Redpolls, Carduelis hornemanni, is a finch that breeds in tundra birch forests in Scandinavia.

Many birds remain in the far north. But, depending on availability of food supplies, some birds migrate short distances south in winter – some have gone as far south as Britain. They sometimes travel with Common Redpolls.

Outside the breeding season, they can form large flocks.

Races / Subspecies

  • Greenland Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni hornemanni)
    • Range: Greenland and neighboring parts of Canada,
    • Hoary Redpol (Carduelis hornemanni exilipes)
      • Range: Tundra of northern North America and Eurasia
Arctic Redpolls in flight
Arctic Redpoll


The Greenland race, in particular, is rather large, averaging 12 to 14 cm (5 – 6 inches), including its tail. Their beak is small.

The plumage is generally pale. In fact, the male is sometimes described as a “snowball”.

The rump is white. Some yellow and grey-brown tones are visible in their plumage.

The females are also pale, but are more streaked on their breasts, sides and rumps.

Similar Species: Sometimes confused with the Mealy Redpoll. The Arctic Redpoll can be identified by:

  • their relative lack of streaking around the sides of the chest and particularly on the undertail coverts (vent)
  • the pure white unstreaked rump (lower back)
  • Its beak that appears to be set deeply in its face (as if squashed into its head)


The average clutch consists of 4 to 7 eggs, which are incubated for 9 to 12 days.

The Arctic Redpoll typically builds its nests in a large bush.

Further Finch Reading

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

We love to hear from our readers. If you have any questions or if you want to get in touch with us, you can find our contact details on our About Us page.

Leave a Comment