Quite excited to have managed a shot of this first winter female Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret) in our garden a few days back. It is the first time I have ever seen one in our area of East Sussex. It does look very similar to the American house finch.
On the Red List in the UK (endangered), this tiny finch – only slightly bigger than a blue tit – is streaky and brown with patches of red on its head and sometimes its breast. They like to hang upside down to feed in trees. It has recently been 'split' from the mealy (or common) redpoll, a larger and paler species which is a winter visitor to the UK.
They breed in woodland, but also visit gardens. Lesser redpolls can be seen dangling from tiny twigs in birch and alder trees, or perhaps on shrub stems. This is a widespread breeding species in Scotland, northern and eastern England and Wales. It is less common in central, southern and south-west England, but does occur in these places in winter.
In many areas, winter is the easiest time to see lesser redpolls, after the trees have lost their leaves. Their breeding population has declined and they're much less common than they once were.
They feed on seeds, particularly of birch and alder, plus plants like willow herb and sorrel, but they also visit bird feeders. (description taken from the RSPB website)