The American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is a New World warbler. It is unrelated to the Old World Redstarts. It is a smallish warbler. It measures 11 to 14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in) in total length. Its length is boosted by a relatively long tail, and it is one of the lightest birds in its family. The breeding males are unmistakable, jet black above apart from large orange-red patches on their wings and tails. Their breast sides are also orange, with the rest of their underparts colored white. In their other plumages, American Redstarts display green in their upperparts, along with black central tails and gray heads. The orange patches of the breeding males are replaced by yellow in the plumages of the females and young birds. [Wikipedia]
A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems 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 gray background. These sweet-singing warblers nest in open woodlands across much of North America. [All About Birds]
American Redstart Facts [All About Birds]
- The male American Redstart sometimes has two mates at the same time. While many other polygamous bird species involve two females nesting in the same territory, the redstart holds two separate territories that can be separated by a quarter-mile. The male begins attracting the second female after the first has completed her clutch and is incubating the eggs.
- Young male American Redstarts have gray-and-yellow plumage, like females, until their second fall. Yearling males sing vigorously in the attempt to hold territories and attract mates. Some succeed, but most do not breed successfully until the following year when they develop black-and-orange breeding plumage.
- Like the Painted Redstart and other “redstarts” of the Neotropics, the American Redstart flashes the bright patches on its tail and wings. This seems to startle insect prey and give the birds an opportunity to catch them. Though these birds share a common name, they are not closely related to each other. In fact, there are other unrelated birds around the world—such as the fantails of Australia and southeastern Asia, and other redstarts of Europe—that share the same foraging tricks.
- The oldest American Redstart was over 10 years old when he was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in Ontario.