The Arctic redpoll is similar in appearance to the common redpoll but generally paler. It may be distinguished from that species by the unstreaked pale rump patch and the uniformly pale vent area. The Greenland race is a very large, pale bird, with the male sometimes described as a `snowball`, but both forms are pale with small beaks, white rumps and often more yellow than grey-brown tones in their plumage. They have black bibs, orangish forehead patches and two light-coloured stripes on each wing. The females are more streaked on their breasts, sides and rumps, but are still pale. Adults are about 12 to 14 centimetres (4.7 to 5.5 in) in length and weigh about 12 to 16 grams (0.42 to 0.56 oz).

Habitat and Distribution

It breeds in tundra birch forest. The Arctic redpoll is partially migratory and tends to move southwards in November and north again in March and April.


It feeds mainly on seeds, particularly of alder and birch trees.


Breeding takes place from May to July. The nest is built low down in a tree or bush and is neatly built with an outer layer of twigs, a middle layer of root fibres, fragments of juniper bark and lichens and an inner layer of down, willow buds and reindeer hair. Three to seven pale blue eggs with light reddish speckling are laid and incubated by the female. They hatch after about eleven days and the young fledge in about a further thirteen days.