American Redstart

The American Redstart, Setophaga ruticilla, is a New World warbler. It breeds in North America across southern Canada and the eastern USA.

Being a migratory bird, it winters in Central America, the West Indies and northern South America. It has been spotted in Western Europe on very rare occasions.

This species is unrelated to the Old World redstarts, but gets its name from the male’s red tail, start being an old word for tail.

The breeding male is unmistakable. It has jet black above apart from large orange-red patches on the wings and tail. The breast sides are also orange, with the rest of the under-parts being white.

Other plumages show greenish upperparts except for the black central tail and grey head. The orange patches of the breeding male are replaced by yellow in the female and young birds.

The breeding habitat is open woodlands or scrub, often near water. American Redstarts nest low in a bush, laying 2-5 eggs in a neat cup nest.

These birds feed on insects, usually caught by fly-catching, sometimes by hovering to pick prey from leaves. This is a very active species. The tail is often held partly fanned out.

The song is a series of musical see notes. The call is a soft chip.