An Arctic Redpoll burrowing into the snow, extremely rare.

4 Kommenttia

I have recently been going through my archives and came across an old article about a very rare incident that I witnessed ca. four years ago:  An  Arctic Redpoll  trying to burrow into the snow . To my knowledge, this is the only time that this action has ever been photographed.

The weather on that day, 2n February, 2006, was extremely cold, -25 C. Apparently the bird’s intention was to find a cosy and warm resting place under the snow. What it had not taken into account was the fact that the snow was on the roof a small outhouse.

A Red poll burrowing into the snow.

That’s why there was not enough snow for the redpoll to dig a sufficiently deep burrow and it had to stop after only approximately 15 seconds.

Picture of an Arctic Redpoll burrowing into the snow.

The Arctic Redpoll is not the only bird species that resorts to digging burrows in order to take cover from extremely cold weather. E.g.  the Great Tit, Sparrow, Bullfinch, Black Grouse and the Willow Ptarmigan in particular are known to do this.




  1. Frank Wendling

    I searched the internet for “redpolls burrow into the snow” and found this site. I live in Anchorage, AK and have observed redpolls burrowing into the snow on numerous occasions this spring. In my observations the burrowing is not temperature related; 1. the temperature was about -1 C; 2. It was full daylight and the birds were actively feeding. In several instances a redpoll would be walking/hopping across the surface of the snow searching for seeds and suddenly dive into the snow, disappearing completely under the snow, only to resurface within seconds and again start walking/hopping across the surface of the snow. I observed this activity numerous times by a number of different redpolls.

    • Olli

      I guess there have to be several reasons for redpolls to dig themselves into snow. One is to find a safe place against both the freezing cold outside and possible predators.

      However, American researchers Joan E. Collins and John M.C. Peterson mention an activity by redpolls that seems to be identical to what you have witnessed. Unfortunately , they are not able to provide any clear answer to why redpolls dig caves and tunnels at times when the redpolls’ activity clearly has no connection with conserving their body temperature.
      All they say is that the birds’ behavior may have a social function, i.e. “in flocking birds, such social interactions may be important for anything from bonding to hierarchy”.
      You can read the study on Snow Burrowing by Common Redpolls (Carduelis flammea) by Joan E. Collins and John M.C. Peterson here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.