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Redpoll UK, with yellow on the head.

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Old Tuesday 2nd February 2010, 17:08   #1
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Redpoll UK, with yellow on the head.

Took these photo's today of two Redpoll ( lesser ? ) with a flock of Goldfinch.
1st bird, typical Redpoll, 2nd bird, the area where the red should be is mainly gold. Any thoughts? or does this happen frequently.
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Its not an optical illusion!. It just looks like one!.
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Old Tuesday 2nd February 2010, 17:38   #2
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The second bird looks like a 1st winter (the pointed tail tips are a good indicator) with the colour on the crown just coming through - that might explain why it looks a bit strange at the moment.

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Old Tuesday 2nd February 2010, 20:37   #3
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We see this in House Finches - some are yellow where most are red. It's said to be dietary. Perhaps the same is happening here?

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Old Wednesday 3rd February 2010, 12:04   #4
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Xanthism is a possible alternative explanation I suppose.

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Old Wednesday 3rd February 2010, 12:59   #5
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Hi, I've seen this gold shimmer effect on quite a few redpoll that I've handled (for ringing) and suspect, but am not sure, that these are elderly female birds . . . they're usually older birds and adult males would (might) probably be showing some red on the chest or rump.

I've not been ringing them for long so have not yet retrapped many birds of known age but one bird had a closed aviary ring on (accidental release I suppose), which was dated 2 years previously, and this had a very strong gold in the cap, and little red.

Also, if you can get some more photos with the tail in pin-sharp focus, as Andrew said you just m-a-y be able to "age" the birds . . . it can be a bit tricky even in the hand but a "good" youngster will have very pointed tail feathers wheareas the older birds' tfs will be rounded.

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