Help Identifying This Bird - A 'Common' Redpoll or the Lesser Variety

Hey there everyone,

My wife and I have recently joined the RSPB following a wonderful week in Shetland which illuminated us to the myriad birds we have for company here in the UK. On Sunday we headed over to Tudeley Woods in Kent and amongst Long Tail Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Chiffchaffs, we spotted this little guy and we were wondering if it was perhaps the rarer Common 'Mealy' Redpoll of the Lesser variety? We're pretty new to identifying close relations so I thought I'd open this up to the experts

I've posted a couple of images below - apologies for the quality but this little chap was a little way away.

Any ideas would be welcome - thanks

  • Hi goonfish, welcome to the Community from Berkshire. I'm glad your trip to Shetland has opened your eyes to the wonderful world of birding.
    From your first photo the bird appears to be quite a warm brown so on balance I would think it's most likely to be a Lesser Redpoll. This is the species/race that is widespread in the UK. The Common/Mealy Redpoll is a relatively scarce winter visitor. It's a bit larger than the Lesser and is said to have a slightly "colder" appearance. Personally, I've never seen one in the UK .
    Sorry I can't be more definitive. You might this factsheet from the BTO interesting.



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  • I agree lesser redpoll. Common (or mealy) redpolls look like lessers after a dunk in peroxide. Their upperparts are closer to pale grey than the warm brown of the pictured lesser.

    Happiness is an adult Hen Harrier that hasn't been shot, trapped or poisoned. Happiness is a rare commodity in the English uplands. 

  • Hey TeeJay,

    Thanks for the warm welcome and for the info you've shared. We were thinking because of the paler breast and lack of pinky red colour it could have been a Common Redpoll but, like you say, it's the Lesser we've been reading that is more abundant here.

    It's a new one for our little collection of photographs anyhow and we're pleased to have had it confirmed - thanks a bunch for helping out.
  • In reply to John B (not the sloop either):

    Hey there John B,

    Again, echoing my reply a moment ago to TeeJay, thanks for adding a post to this and helping us out with the identification of the little chap.

    Much appreciated :)
  • In reply to goonfish:

    Just as a quick follow up, although I haven't seen a Common Redpoll in the UK I did get a rather poor shot of one in Finland about 8 years ago.

    I think this illustrates John's point about the "peroxide" look.

    The lack of pink on the breast of your bird is probably because it's a female. An adult male at this time of year has a wonderful pink blush on the breast.



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  • Welcome to the (sometimes) birding madhouse called RSPB Forum hope you nenjoy the info and banter that goes on here. Like the others I think it was the more often seen Lesser Redpoll you spotted. The rarer seen other Redpolls often get some birders quite excited.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can