American RedstartSetophaga ruticilla

adult male
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult female
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
immature male
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
American Redstart
American Redstart

Family

Description

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Male black with bright orange patches on wings and tail; white belly. Females and young birds dull olive-brown above, white below, with yellow wing and tail patches. Immature similar to adult female. Immature male has darker tail and some irregular patches of black on head and body.

Voice

5 or 6 high-pitched notes or 2-note phrases, ending with an upward or downward inflection: chewy-chewy-chewy, chew-chew-chew.

Listen

alarm chips
songs #4
songs #1
songs #3
songs & calls #1
more calls
dawn song
songs #5
songs #2

Habitat

Second-growth woodlands; thickets with saplings.

Range

Breeds from southeastern Alaska east to central Manitoba, Quebec, and Newfoundland, and south to northern California, Colorado, Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, and South Carolina. Winters in California, Texas, and Florida, and in tropics.

Discussion

This is one of the most numerous warblers in North America, because its favored habitat, second-growth woodland, covers such extensive areas of the continent. The American Redstart has a distinctive habit of dropping down suddenly in pursuit of a flying insect, then fanning its brightly marked tail from side to side. Only after a full year do males acquire the black-and-orange adult plumage, so it is not unusual to find what appears to be a female singing and displaying like a male.

Nesting

4 dull-white eggs, speckled with brown, in a neat, well-made cup of grass, bark shreds, plant fibers, and spiderweb lined with fine grass and hair, and placed in a fork in a sapling or next to the trunk of a tree.

Similar Species

adult male, Myrtle, breeding

Yellow-rumped Warbler

5-6" (13-15 cm). Breeding male dull bluish above, streaked with black; breast and flanks blackish. Rump, crown, and small area at sides of breast yellow.

adult male, Interior West, breeding

Yellow Warbler

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Bright yellow with a light olive green tinge on back. Male has fine rusty streaks on breast. The only largely yellow warbler with yellow spots in the tail (not white).

adult male

Lucy's Warbler

4" (10 cm). A small, plain warbler with white eye ring. Both sexes gray above, creamy white below, with bright chestnut rump. Chestnut crown feathers usually concealed, except in display.

adult

Bananaquit

4-5" (10-12.5 cm). Small, warbler-like with a thin, decurved bill.

adult male

Baltimore Oriole

7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). Male has black head, back, wings, and tail; orange breast, rump, and shoulder patch. Female olive-brown, with dull yellow-orange underparts and two dull white wing bars.

Vireo

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