Common Redpolls Using Spruce Seeds in Northern Utah
During winter in the United States and southern Canada, the Common Redpoll (Carduelis /lammea) generally is considered a bird of open woodlands, weed patches, fields, and brushy fence rows, where it feeds mainly on birch (Betula) and alder (Alnus) seeds (Godfrey, The Birds of Canada, Nat. Mus. Bull. No. 203, 1966). Thus, in a mixed flock with 30 White-winged Crossbills (Loxia leucoptera) and several Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus) on 30 November 1977, 26 km east of Preston, Franklin Co., Idaho, I was surprised to see 25 Common Redpolls feeding on cones at the top of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). At 13:00 on 7 December 1977, I found 25 Common Redpolls and 25 Pine Siskins feeding on spruce cones in the Bear River Mountains (elev. = 2500 m), Cache Co., 18 km west of Laketown, Utah. I collected 2 males and 1 female from this flock. Previously, only 3 specimens of redpolls had been collected in Utah, but sight records have increased in recent years (Hayward et a!., Birds of Utah, Great Basin Nat. Mem. 1, 1976). Several other mixed flocks containing 20-50 redpolls were seen that day.
Smith, K.G. (1979). Common Redpolls using spruce seeds in northern Utah. Wilson Bulletin, 91(4): 621-623.