Forehead, lore, and throat, black: bill much compressed towards the tip, yellowish: feet brown.
F. Linaria, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. I. p. 373. Lesser Redpole, Mont. Orn. Diet. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. I. p. 200. Selb. Illust. vol. I. p. 320. pl. 54. f. 6.
Entire length five inches three lines: length of the bill (from the forehead) three lines, (from the gape) four lines and a quarter; of the tarsus six lines and a half; of the tail two inches one line; from the carpus to the end of the wing two inches eight lines.
(Male in Spring). Forehead, space between the bill and the eye, chin and throat, black: crown of the head deep crimson: occiput, nape, and upper part of the back, blackish brown, the feathers edged with pale reddish brown: sides of the throat, fore part of the neck, breast, sides of the abdomen, and rump, carmine-red, the latter tinged with grayish; middle of the belly, vent, and under tail-coverts, white tinged with rose-colour: wings and tail dusky, the feathers edged with pale reddish brown; wing-coverts tipped with pale yellowish brown, so as to shew two transverse bars: bill more compressed than in the next species; yellow, the culmen and tip dusky: feet brown. (Female). Less red on the crown of the head; forehead brown, mixed with yellowish white: rump and under parts only slightly tinged with rose-red: throat dusky; breast and middle of the belly whitish; flanks, vent, and under tail-coverts, marked with large longitudinal spots of blackish brown. (Egg). Pale blue, speckled and streaked with pale purplish red, and reddish brown: long. diam. seven lines and a half; trans, diam. five lines and a half.
Var.ß . Linaria borealis, Selb. in Newcast. Nat. Hist. Trans, vol. I. p. 263. Lesser Redpole, (a large variety,) Selb. Illust. vol. I. pl. 53**. f. 2. Mealy Redpole, (Lin. canescens,) Gould, Europ. Birds, part xi. Larger than the more common variety: general plumage paler: rump grayish white: tail rather longer: the two cross-bars on the wings broader and more strongly marked.
Resident in Scotland and the North of England throughout the year. In the southern counties only a winter visitant, appearing at that season in large flocks, and frequently associating with other species. Nest, according to Selby, placed in a bush or low tree; constructed of moss and the stalks of dry grass, intermixed with down from the catkin of the willow, which also forms the lining. Eggs four or five in number. Young seldom fledged before the end of June or beginning of July. Feeds on the catkins of the birch and alder, as well as on the seeds and buds of other trees. The Var.ß. is considered by some as a distinct species, but this point requires further investigation. It is known to the bird-catchers in the neighbourhood of London, by the name of Mealy-backed Redpole, the more common variety being called by them Stone Redpole.