Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hoary Redpoll

On this day in 1960, a Hoary Redpoll appeared in a flock of Common Redpolls that were at a feeder in West Englewood, Bergen County. Frank B. Gill noticed the bird's paleness compared to the other birds in the flock and collected it. The bird was subsequently identified as a Hoary Redpoll. The specimen is now at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (Gill 1961).

Hoary Redpoll is one of the rarer vagrants to New Jersey. This northern species occasionally moves south with irruptions of Common Redpolls, but many Hoary Redpolls do not come as far south as New Jersey. Adding to the difficulty of finding a Hoary Redpoll in NJ are identification issues. Redpolls of both species are variably marked, and sorting out which is which can be an exercise in frustration, even for those with previous redpoll experience (Czaplak 1995).

There are only two other accepted records for NJ; one from Plainfield, Union County, in 1974, and one from Rockaway, Morris County, in 1994 (Hanson 2005).

Czaplak, Dave. 1995. Identifying Common and Hoary Redpolls in Winter. Birding 27:446-457.
Gill, Frank B. 1961. A Hoary Redpoll Specimen for New Jersey. Wilson Bulletin 73:388-389. PDF here


Rob said...

A Hoary Redpoll on April 1? Sure...a likely story. :-)

Jennifer Hanson said...

Hi Rob,

I know what you mean, but the evidence seems plausible enough. The odds against an eminent ornithologist publishing a note about a specimen in a major journal as an April Fool's joke seem high. It would be quite something to get away with, though!

Rob said...

Hi Jennifer,

Indeed it would.

I am sure the record is 110% valid.

Patrick Belardo said...

Wow, a Plainfield record... that's near my old neighborhood. I would think the chances of that happening in the current Plainfield are very, very slim.

Jennifer Hanson said...


Believe it or not, W. DeWitt Miller was based in Plainfield. He worked at the American Museum of Natural History in the early 1900s and published notes on Plainfield's bird life in journals like the Auk and Bird-Lore. If you can find a copy of Ludlow Griscom's Birds of the New York City Region, you'll find some of Miller's observations included.