Lesser Redpoll - Carduelis cabaret

Alternative names

The Lesser Redpoll is a small brown streaked finch with a distinctive red forehead, small black bib and, in breeding males, red upper chests. This contrasts with largely pale under parts (streaked on the flanks).  Despite its name, the Lesser Redpoll is by far the commonest Redpoll found in the UK.

Similar Species

The (much rarer in the UK) Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) is slightly larger and rather pale and grey with whiter wing bars. Also referred to as Mealy Redpoll, the Common Redpoll is larger and paler than the Lesser Redpoll with which it often mixes, apparently without significant interbreeding.

Identification difficulty

Birch and Alder woods.

When to see it

All year round, but commoner in the north in summer and in the south in winter.

Life History

A seed eater, especially Birch and Alder seeds.

UK Status

A widespread breeding species in Scotland, northern and eastern England and Wales. It is less common in central, southern and south-west England as a breeding species, but does occur in these places in winter. Its UK breeding population has declined and it is on the Red List.

VC55 Status

Has bred in good numbers in the past but not recorded as a breeding species since 1996. A winter visitor to Leicestershire and Rutland with numbers fluctuating from year to year.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map