Our Hoary Redpoll Pursuits

by Aden Troyer | Feb 1, 2023 | 0 comments

Hoary Redpoll on red berries
Hoary Redpoll. Photo © Simonas Minkevius/Dreamstime.com.

Two years ago, the winter brought some unusual birds to us from the North country. One of these was a Hoary Redpoll. It was coming to another birdwatcher’s front porch where Susan has several feeders. This bird nests in northern Alaska along the Arctic Ocean east to northern Labrador, and there have been only a handful of confirmed sightings ever in Pennsylvania.

My friend Fred and I decided we’d really like to see this rarity. We left early enough to arrive at our destination by dawn. Enroute, we thought a fresh cup of coffee would taste good on this chilly January morning.

We arrived at Susan’s property before any birds started moving, Susan quickly filled her feeders and scattered some seeds, after sweeping away the debris leftover from the day before. Susan told us the bird had been seen six or eight times the previous day, and that was encouraging. At daybreak several other birders arrived, carrying binoculars, scopes, or cameras.

The first birds to appear were Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice, followed by American Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows, a Carolina Wren, and Mourning Doves. A crow fussed as it flew overhead, perhaps upset by the Red-tailed Hawk we had seen earlier.

By 8:00 a.m., several of the spectators left, probably to get to work on time. By that time we realized those coffees this morning were not a good idea. We took a little break and then hurried back.

Guess what. Yes, the bird arrived only minutes after we left, fed quickly, and disappeared.

“It’ll be back shortly,” Susan told us.

We stayed for two more hours, then had to leave because of other commitments. Well, this bird is not in a cage, it has wings, and it comes and goes whenever it feels like it! Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.

A week later I had a job to look at in the general direction of Susan’s property. Fred and I convinced my son David to join us that day. Thankfully, after just a whopping ten minutes, we found the bird! Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.

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