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This Common Redpoll was photographed at Laguna Vista, Cameron County, south Texas on May 28, 2002 by Scarlet and George Colley. Despite the date and location it is clearly a Redpoll, and clearly not a Hoary Redpoll (too much breast streaking, and some fine marks evident on undertail coverts). It is also a very worn individual, but with no signs indicative of being in captivity (broken tail tips; oddly-formed feet or claws); keep in mind that Redpolls have a complete molt in the Fall and no molt in the Spring, so this plumage is consistent with a wild bird on such a date. This extensive wear reduces the white fringing of many feathers, exaggerating the darkness of the plumage compared to birds seen in early Winter.
With such an outlandish event, one might ought to consider the other forms from NW Europe (as possible escapes - but this initself seems less likely than a natural occurance):- There are three forms of Common Redpoll - also called Mealy Redpoll in Europe:- rostrata (mainly from Greenland), islandica (from Iceland) and the nominate flammea (from North America, northern Scandinavia, eastern Europe and Asia), plus Lesser Redpoll C. cabaret from the British Isles (- mostly; also parts of NW Europe). I know that Lesser Redpoll can be ruled out by the very light undertail streaking visible on this bird, plus the apparent almost-unmarked white rump (C. carabet is normally well-streaked in both these areas). I am less certain of the distinctions between the races of Common Redpoll, but I recall that nominate flammea is the most likely to resemble Hoary Redpoll with regard to rump and undertail coverts - yet can be darker in other plumage aspects - just as in this bird. Also the rather long bill is apparently only found in some forms of flammea: