Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll, 2000

During the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 21, 2000, (in the Irmo area northwest of Columbia, S.C.) I kept an eye on my feeders. Looking down from a second floor window, I was astonished to spot an unusual bird at the mixed seed tube feeder, apparently a Common Redpoll.

From my field notes: "It was...a small brownish finch, browner than the American Goldfinches [also at the feeder], Siskin-like, but with a bright red cap (forehead to top). It had a forked tail, and a trace of white wingbar (perhaps two) on each side. I raced downstairs for a camera, and took pictures from ~12 feet [4 m.] away straight on. It faced me and showed a prominent dark throat patch, whiter around the face; the cap looked dark, rather than bright red from this spot as it was shady. It did not seem bright white on the breast."

We retain the copyrights to all photos on this website (poor as they are!).
After a few minutes, it was gone. Unfortunately, the pictures were poor, and the only other witness was the Roadrunner cable installer who happened to be with me on the second floor when the bird came.

Two days later, on February 23, I decided to set up a videocamera, to prepare for the bird's return. Indeed, it took me a moment to realize that while I was aiming and focusing, a Common Redpoll, prsumably the same special visitor, was already there at the feeder! I got it on tape for several minutes, which was very fortunate, since we never saw it again.

The S.C. Bird Records Committee eventually accepted the record of the rare visit. The GBBC map showed a mass of reports of Common Redpolls that weekend across Canada and the northern tier of the US down to northern Maryland. A handful of reports came from southern Indiana and Ohio, but the Columbia report was singular.

To get some images for this page, I played the original 8mm videotape on the recorder, fed the image to a TV set, and took digital photos of the TV screen. (There must be a better way? These pictures look bizarre, with wavy patterns in some settings.) We can be reached via email at .

Finally posted on New Year's Day, 2006, this site has been visited times so far, according to the Web-counter folks .