American Redstart – Profile | Facts | Female | Eggs | Traits | Nest

American Redstart

The American Redstart is a novel warbler. The male is black with orange patches on every wing, on the edges of its breast, and on the base of its tail on both sides.

American Redstart profile

The male’s throat is black, however, its breast and stomach are white. The feminine is grey the place the male is black, and yellow the place the male is orange.

The feminine additionally has a white eye-ring. Juveniles and first-year males appear to be females, though first-year males usually have some black on the higher breast or head. The American Redstart has a comparatively quick, large bill.

American Redstart Overview

Warblers normally are sometimes referred to as “the butterflies of the bird world,” however the Redstart might reside as much as that nickname more than some other species.

This stunning warbler flits about very actively within the timber, normally holding its wings and tail partly spread as if to point out off their patches of coloration.

On occasions it feeds more like a flycatcher than a typical warbler, hovering among the many foliages and infrequently flying out to seize bugs in mid-air.

A full of life warbler that hops amongst tree branches seeking bugs, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the edges, wings, and tail.

True to its Halloween-themed coloration scheme, the redstart appears to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers.

Females and immature males have more subdued yellow “flash patterns” on a grey background. These sweet-singing warblers nest in open woodlands throughout a lot of North America.

American Redstart Geographic Range

Commonly often known as American redstarts, Setophaga ruticilla is a Neotropical migrant warbler that spends parts of the year in each the Nearctic and the Neotropical areas.

During the spring and summertime, Setophaga ruticilla breeds throughout a lot of Canada and the United States. It inhabits the southern areas of Canada from the east to west coast.

In the United States, Setophaga ruticilla could also be present in restricted areas of the northern Midwest, and most states east of the Mississippi River. Exclusions embody parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

This species migrates biannually throughout a lot of the United States and Central America to achieve its wintering grounds in southern Central and northwestern South America.

Setophaga ruticilla additionally overwinters on many Caribbean islands together with Jamaica and Cuba.

American Redstart Description

The American redstart is a smallish warbler. It measures 11 to 14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in) in total size and has a wingspan of 16 to 23 cm (6.3 to 9.1 in). Its size is boosted by a comparatively long tail and it is likely one of the lightest birds in its family.

Weight is significantly much less in winter than in the summertime. Males weigh an average of 8.6 g (0.30 oz) in the summertime however drop to 7.2 g (0.25 oz) in winter, whereas females drop even more from an average of 8.7 g (0.31 oz) to an average of 6.9 g (0.24 oz).

Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 5.5 to 6.9 cm (2.2 to 2.7 in), the tail is 4.9 to 5.8 cm (1.9 to 2.3 in), the bill is 0.7 to 0.9 cm (0.28 to 0.35 in), and the tarsus is 1.5 to 1.9 cm (0.59 to 0.75 in).

The breeding males are unmistakable, jet black above aside from giant orange-red patches on their wings and tails.

Their breast sides are additionally orange, with the remainder of their underparts white. In their different plumages, American redstarts display green of their upperparts, together with black central tails and gray heads.

The orange patches of the breeding males are changed by yellow within the plumages of the females and younger birds.

Orange and yellow coloration is because of the presence of carotenoids; males possess the red carotenoid canthaxanthin and the yellow carotenoids canary xanthophyll A and B, all of which combine collectively to provide an orange coloration, whereas the females possess solely the yellow carotenoids.

Recent analysis signifies that an age and sex impact on noticed coloration attributes of hue, brightness, and saturation exists in American redstarts, with the exception for saturation, which solely confirmed an aging impact. Their song is a collection of musical see notes. Their call is a delicate chip.

American Redstart Behavior

American Redstarts are extremely lively insectivores that appear by no means to face nonetheless.

They quickly unfold their cocked tails, exposing the orange or yellow in a fast flash, which regularly startles insect prey into flushing, whereupon the redstart darts after it, making an attempt to catch it within the air.

Setophaga ruticilla is a Neotropical warbler that makes a biannual journey between Central or South America and the United States or Canada. It is a lively species that are usually glimpsed whereas it flits about inside dense vegetation.

Setophaga ruticilla is understood for it is distinctive foraging behavior of flicking it is brightly colored tail to fire up bugs from foliage. Like most Neotropical migrants, this warbler performs long migrations at night however is the diurnal exterior of the migratory interval.

It is an extremely territorial species, and can vigorously defend territory through the breeding and non-breeding seasons. During the non-breeding season, higher-ranked males will occupy higher high-quality habitats comparable to moist mangroves.

Females and subordinate males are chased out to habitats of decrease high quality together with dry scrub forests. Males who might be higher within the hierarchy sometimes are older, have more in-depth black bibs, and brighter orange coloration.

Likely on account of it is extremely territorial nature, this species isn’t seen with more than one different Setophaga ruticilla. However, throughout the migration, it can usually be part of multi-species teams.

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A medium-sized warbler with a comparatively large, flat bill and pretty long, expressive tail. In-flight it has a deep chest, slim stomach, and long, considerably club-shaped tail.


Adult male American Redstarts are largely black with brilliant orange patches on the edges, wings, and tail. The stomach is white. Females and immature males substitute the orange with yellow or yellow-orange.

They have grey heads and underparts, with olive back and wings and dark-gray tails.

American Redstart Habitat

Second-growth woods, river groves. Breeds in open deciduous and blended woodland, preferring edges of forests or second growth. Attracted additionally to roadside timber, shrubby and tree-lined stream banks, and ponds.

Will nest in second-growth maples, birch, and aspen following fire in coniferous forests. In the Northwest, prefers willow and alder thickets. In winter within the tropics, present in lowland woods.

American Redstarts breed in open wooded habitats, significantly these dominated by deciduous timber. In migration, the species could be present in almost any treed habitats. Its tropical winter habitat is in woodlands and open forests at decrease and center elevations.


Mostly insects. Feeds on all kinds of bugs together with beetles, caterpillars, moths, leafhoppers, aphids, midges, crane flies; additionally spiders anddaddy longlegs. Also eats some seeds and berries.

American Redstart Feeding

The redstarts feed nearly completely on bugs that are normally caught by flycatching. American redstarts even have been identified to catch their insect prey by gleaning it from leaves.

This is a really lively species. The tail is usually held partly fanned out. These birds have been noticed flashing the orange and yellow of their tails on and off to startle and chase bugs from the underbrush.

Overall, this species is a really versatile, opportunistic feeder that may simply adapt to various habitats, seasons, insect communities, vegetation construction, and time of day.

The diet consists largely of caterpillars, moths, flies, leafhoppers and planthoppers, small wasps, beetles, aphids, stoneflies, and spiders. Few berries and seeds are consumed, however are most frequently from barberry, serviceberry, and magnolia.

Forages very actively, usually flying out to catch bugs in mid-air or hovering to take them from foliage. Flycatchers are a lot more than most warblers, drooping their wings, fanning their tail, and leaping high within the air.

Males feed higher and make more mid-air sallies than do females early within the nesting season. Do not cling to suggestions of branches whereas hanging the other way up as do many warblers. Holds giant caterpillars and moths within the bill and bangs them on perch before consuming.

American Redstart Breeding

The breeding habitats of the redstarts are open woodlands or scrub, usually situated close to water. They nest within the decrease part of a bush, laying 2–5 eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest.

The clutch is incubated by the feminine for 10 to 13 days. The younger fledge after 9 days within the nest and will stay with one parent for as much as three weeks afterward.

First-year males are capable of reproducing throughout their first breeding season, however, they keep the female-like plumage which can contribute to low reproductive success (lower than 50% of first-year males) till year 2.

In distinction, most first-year females efficiently reproduce throughout their first breeding season. There is proof for a skewed sex ratio that leads to a surplus of unmated males.

American redstarts display a blended mating strategy; they’re predominantly monogamous however around 25% of males preserve a number of territories and are polygynous.

Even inside monogamous pairs, a high proportion of offspring—as many as 40%—aren’t fathered by the male of the pair.

The depth of the male’s coloration (which is because of carotenoid pigments) predicts their success at holding territory of their non-breeding, winter areas within the Caribbean, the chance that they are going to be polygynous, and the proportion of offspring of their nests that they’ll themselves father.

Males are invariably very territorial and the superior males occupy one of the best habitats, comparable to moist mangroves, whereas inferior males occupy secondary habitats comparable to dry scrub forests.

American Redstart Communication

Setophaga ruticilla primarily makes use of vocal and visible types of communication. Male Setophaga ruticilla gives distinctive songs that are used to defend territory or appeal to mates.

Songs of this species are extremely variable however are usually speedy and high pitched. Songs might repeat the identical 1 or 2 phrases or have 2 to eight completely different phrases given in speedy succession.

Some songs end in an accented, terminal notice whereas others merely end unaccented. Setophaga ruticilla makes use of this completely different song sorts to speak in numerous conditions.

American Redstart Eggs

4, generally 2-5. Off-white, with brown or grey marks. Incubation by feminine solely, 11-12 days. Often parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Fed by each parent.

Leave the nest at 9 days old. The parents divide the brood into 2 components, every parent attending solely half the fledglings. Normally 1 brood per season.


Fed by each parent. Leave the nest at 9 days old. The parents divide the brood into 2 components, every parent attending solely half the fledglings. Normally 1 brood per season.


Males generally mate with more than one feminine and lift 2-Three broods concurrently. Males carry out a frequent boundary display flight towards rivals, with stiffened wingbeats and a glide back to the unique perch in a semicircle.

Male shows to feminine throughout courtship by fluffing plumage, elevating crown feathers, spreading wings and tail, and bowing. Nest site picked by the feminine, normally in the fork of a tree, 4-70′ above the ground; hardly ever on the ground.

Open cup nest (constructed by feminine) of plant fibers, grass, rootlets, adorned with lichen, birch bark, and feathers; lined with feathers. Sometimes will use old nests of different birds.

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American Redstart Lifespan/Longevity

The oldest Setophaga ruticilla on file was a male banded in adult plumage (making it not less than 2 years old) which was re-captured roughly 9 years later, making it not less than 10 years old.

There is proof that many females reside to be not less than 5. Setophaga ruticilla is just not saved in captivity and thus there isn’t knowledge for captive lifespan.

Annual survival charges are estimated to be between 50 and 60%. Females are thought to endure a barely higher mortality charge as they spend considerably more time on the nest (brooding) and are sometimes consumed by nest predators.

The oldest identified banded redstart lived to over 10 years of age. Other adults have been identified to achieve around 5 years. However, few survive past the first phases of life, because the bird is susceptible to each terrestrial and aerial predator.

The highest charges of predation happen through the breeding season when eggs and helpless nestlings are ample and straightforward prey for various predators. Females largely brood throughout this era and thus usually fall prey to nest predators.

Common terrestrial predators embody red squirrels, fishers, eastern chipmunks, American black bears, flying squirrels, fox snakes, and home cats. Aerial predators take nestlings, eggs, and even adults in flight.

Aerial predators embody jaegers, blue jays, widespread ravens, northern saw-whet owls, widespread grackles, northern goshawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and Cooper’s hawks.

American Redstart Facts

Like the Painted Redstart and different “redstarts” of the Neotropics, the American Redstart flashes the brilliant patches in its tail and wings. This appears to startle insect prey and provides the birds a chance to catch them.

Though these birds share a typical name, they aren’t carefully associated with one another. In truth, there are different unrelated birds around the world—such because the fantails of Australia and southeastern Asia, and different redstarts of Europe—that share identical foraging methods.

Young male American Redstarts have gray-and-yellow plumage, like females, till their second fall. Yearling males sing vigorously within the try to carry territories and appeal to mates.

Some succeed, however most don’t breed efficiently till the next year once they develop black-and-orange breeding plumage.

The male American Redstart generally has two mates at a similar time. While many different polygamous bird species contain two females nesting in the identical territory, the redstart holds two separate territories that may be separated by a quarter-mile.

The male begins attracting a second feminine after the first has accomplished her clutch and is incubating the eggs.

The oldest American Redstart was over 10 years old when he was recaptured and rereleased throughout a banding operation in Ontario.

Where to search out American Redstart 

In deciduous woodlands, American Redstarts are pretty conspicuous in comparison with different small birds of the leafy cover and subcanopy.

They are seemingly hyperactive, repeatedly dashing by timber and bushes after unseen bugs, or prancing alongside branches, quickly spreading and shutting their black-and-yellow or black-and-orange tail.

Males sing their candy, explosive songs steadily throughout spring and early summer. American Redstarts are widespread spring and fall migrants within the East.

It is a later spring migrant (arriving in May in a lot of the U.S. and Canada) and a mid-season fall migrant (September-early October).

Ecosystem Roles

As an insectivore, Setophaga ruticilla consumes vital quantities of bugs and certainly has an influence on native insect communities.

This species additionally consumes small quantities of fruits and seeds through the fall which can contribute to seed distribution for the plant species it feeds upon. Eggs, nestlings, and adults are consumed by all kinds of predators.

Like many birds, this species is host to a number of ectoparasites together with three lice species and one tick. Setophaga ruticilla is a typical host for brown-headed cowbirds and at present will settle for and efficiently increase cowbird chicks.

Populations of Setophaga ruticilla which might be uncovered to Molothrus ater will react more aggressively to adults than populations that have encountered them much less usually.


Successful conservation efforts of the redstart, as for some other migrating bird, embody defending and offering habitat all through its complete range.

The advantages to coffee farms that redstarts and different “coffee birds” present have inspired coffee farmers to adapt shade timber and adjoining forest patches of their farming practices as further habitat for the birds.

While shade tree coffee farms provide a considerably sensible compromise between habitat preservation and agriculture, there may be nonetheless not sufficient knowledge to back the proposition that practices like shade tree coffee farms can substitute the natural habitat that was as soon as there.

Still, the best technique for American redstart conservation could be natural habitat preservation at wintering and breeding grounds.

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