As with other finches, redpolls have specially designed beaks made to crack and crush seeds.
About the size of a goldfinch, redpolls are another thing of beauty. The males have spectacular pink-vested breasts, and both sexes have deep red caps atop their heads from which they get their name.
When they arrive at feeders, they almost always come in large flocks of fifty to a hundred, but on occasion you may find one or two associating with goldfinches. These birds come from the northern areas of Labrador and James Bay, crowding on tube feeders and gorging on black oil seeds.
Their preferred habitat is alder edges and field borders where grass seed and catkins are available but during winter, they quickly find handouts in seed feeders through all of Nova Scotia. These birds are said to be irruptive, meaning that some years we may see them and some years they have plenty of food elsewhere to keep them from moving south into our area. Being northern birds, they have yet to learn to fear people and are easily approached. Often they can even be enticed to land on your hand or shoulder or come into the kitchen if food is available.