The redpoll is a very small bird, dumpy in appearance, having greyish brown colouring on the upper body interleaved with streaks of a darker brown. There are two wing bars, buff coloured and whitish flanks with darker streaks on them again. The tail is dark brown in colour, and completely forked. The two main characteristic features which makes this bird different from all the other sis the forehead, which is a bright red in colour, and the bib, black in colour. During summer time, the male bird has pink colouration on the throat, cheeks, breast and the rump. The female birds are very much like the males, though in summer they appear duller and almost never have the pink shade in the plumage.
The redpoll is a very confusing type of bird, with many ornithologists unable to differentiate how many different species, races and sub species the fall into. The four main types of the redpoll which are located in Britain are – the lesser redpoll, the Mealy redpoll, the Greenland redpoll, and the Arctic Redpoll. The entire species is known by the scientific name of Carduelis Cabaret. All four species or sub species are very alike to one another, with only minute differences to distinguish between them. The fully grown bird can go to lengths of 11.5 to 14.5 cm, and weighs about 12 to 16 grams. Their wing span is approximately 20 to 25 cm in length. The birds are found in the country all year round, and are currently marked an amber status in Britain.
The redpoll’s voice is a metallic tone, and sometimes sounds like a rattling noise. The song is also a rattling series of different pitched notes, sounding like a ‘chuch uch uch errrrr’. The British redpolls are normally quite sedentary, being resident birds, though sometimes a few may tend to migrate depending upon the climatic conditions. But their migration is normally short distance, like the northern Britain birds migrate into the southern regions and vice versa. Some of them also migrate a little further into the European countries of France, Italy and the Netherlands. Redpolls do not generally like living in gardens, rarely do you see one about. They prefer remaining in the local forest areas with wooded corners. The population of this bird has been declining alarmingly over recent times, coming down to one tenth of what they originally were. However, they have been secured into the amber list as well.
The redpoll feeds on tiny seeds, birch, alders, spruce and the like. They are very nimble birds, and feed on top of tree branches, sometimes hanging upside down as well. In the breeding season, the birds tend to feed upon small insects too. The breeding season begins in the month of May, with the female bird building the nest using twigs and other grasses. The nests are normally found in trees or bushes, in the birch woodlands and such areas. The female gives about 3 to 5 eggs with 1 or 2 clutches. The incubation period lasts about 10 to 13 days, which the female handles.