What’s in a name?
The Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni often has the distinction of being the most northerly wintering passerine. The digestive tract of this species is especially adapted to take in large amounts of food during the short days which is then digested slowly during the long nights. The difference between Arctic Redpoll and other redpoll species was first noted by Carl Peter Holboll and in describing this species he named it after Jens Wilken Hornemann, and the description first appeared ‘Ornithological Contributions to the Fauna of Greenland’ which Holboll wrote in 1840.
Holboll was a Danish zoologist with a long connection to Greenland, where he frequently traveled until his death in 1856, when a ship taking him to Greenland was lost at sea.
Holboll’s father worked as head gardener at the botanical gardens at Copenhagen Museum and Jens Wilken Hornemann had been a lecturer at the Botanic Gardens before becoming Professor of Botany. For thirty-five years he had been a leading botanist. Hornemann had few links with ornithology, but did take a keen interest in the exploration of Greenland and of course knew C P Holboll because of the connections with his father. Hornemann supplied a list of plants of Greenland which was included in ‘A Narrative of an Expedition to the east coast of Greenland,’ which was published in 1837.