Sighted this Spring - N. Flicker, Red Polls, Robins, Goldfinches, etc

I just moved here last Sept. and have seen many 'new to me' species.  I was in Halifax 25 years and had Waxwings and Jays and Yellow Warblers all the time, but here there are others.  Back in Oct I had a Pileated Woodpecker who got away before I could pic him, and a pheasant started coming around.  I live near the Coliseum and Centennial Park so there is lots of woodland nearby.   As Fall progressed I began seeing the regular Blue Jays, chickadees, sparrows, and wrens then in Winter we started getting the Goldfinches and Red Polls (5-6 of them at once most of the time). They are still coming around.  Around Dec or Jan we saw the Flicker the first time and he has returned every few days since then at my feeder or suet.  Sometime in early March we began getting Mourning Doves (at least one pair) and a couple robins came to the yard about 3 weeks ago - still lots of snow on my yard.  Now they are coming every day, looking for bugs that aren't there yet.  a few days ago I saw a small bird the size of a Red Poll but dark sown to light gray only - no black or colour.  Is this a Black Poll??  I didn't get a pic of him yet.  More later - Ed

Tags: Flicker, Goldfinches, N., Polls, Red, Robins

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Welcome Ed! Hope you will participate often, we all enjoy the pics and write ups.  The only Blackpolls we have are Blackpoll warblers which we can expect later on in may.  You have a couple of house finches in your bottom photo as well if you were unaware.  Redpolls were really scarce this winter.  Post any questions you may have as many on this site are willing to help.  Cheers

I wonder if your mystery bird might have been a female Pine Siskin?

They can be very nondescript, the size is right, and they feed and associate with Goldfinches and similar species.

Hi Ralph -  Thanks for the suggestion but I don't think so.   I didn't see any markings at all, just shading top to bottom of dark to light gray. Maybe a Junko? I haven't seen him for a few days, still waiting to get a pic ...  


Junco is certainly a good candidate, Ed, in particular, a male Junco.

You would expect some white in the lower belly and vent area but that's not always obvious.

Also, if it returns, look for white outer tail feathers, especially when it flies. That would be the clincher for Junco. 

You mentioned that you are looking for good bird reference sites. Here are two excellent sites.

With the 1st, the Vireo one, you have to register and log in but the resource is well worth the small effort.

With this 2nd site, Cornell University, find "All About Birds" at the top of the page. It's a drop down menu for great resources. For example, you can narrow your search for bird identification using features like the bird's shape.

Hi Andrew -  so the finches have a more pronounced red-pink over their neck and chest than the redpolls?  I just found them on the Audubon site.  I haven't seen this species when we were in Halifax, so wasn't sure.  Thanks very much for the distinction. One thing on the Audubon site is that I haven't found indication of sizes, which would help a bit more.  I'll keep looking for other ID sites.

   Ralph E. suggested the bird I can't ID would be a Siskin, but I didn't see any markings at all, just shading top to bottom of dark to light gray.  Maybe a Junko?  I haven't seen him for a few days, still waiting to get a pic ...

Ed, you can just 'Google' Redpoll, Junco or Pine Siskin... or any bird name you wish. Choose the Cornell site and view the images of each one singley.

Yea same for the Audubon app, they don't have the sizes of the birds hmmmmm......kind of missed the boat on that aspect in my opinion.  A good field guide such as the Sibley Birds of Eastern North America would help you out a lot.  Redpolls are smaller and more compact than house finches.  Lots of difference, as Joanne said just google the birds for a better comparison. Cheers

Lovely write-up Ed.  Welcome to the group.


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