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American Redstart

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

These birds are migratory, wintering in Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America (in Venezuela they are called "candelitas"). They are very rare vagrants to western Europe.

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

The American Redstart is 12 cm long and weighs 8.5 g. 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 grey heads. The orange patches of the breeding males are replaced by yellow in the plumages of the females and young birds.

The breeding habitats of these birds are open woodlands or scrub. These habitats are often located near water. These birds nest in a low are of a bush, laying 2-5 eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest.

These birds feed on insects which are usually caught by flycatching. American Redstarts also have been known to catch their insect prey by gleaning it from leaves. This is a very active species. The tail is often held partly fanned out. These birds have been observed flashing the orange and yellow of their tails, on and off, to startle and chase insects from the underbrush.

Their songs is a series of musical see notes. Their call is a soft chip.

American redstarts display a mixed mating strategy; they are predominantly monogamous but around 25% of males maintain multiple territories and are polygynous. Even within monogamous pairs, a high proportion of offspring - as many as 40% - are not fathered by the male of the pair. The intensity of the males' coloration (which is due to carotenoid pigments) predicts their success at holding territory in their non-breeding, winter locations in the Caribbean, the probability that they will be polygynous, and the proportion of offspring in their nests that they will themselves father Reudink, M. W., Marra, P. P., Boag, P. T., & Ratcliffe, L. M. (2009). Plumage coloration predicts paternity and polygyny in the American redstart. Animal Behaviour, 77, 495-501. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.11.005.


Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

Curson, Quinn and Beadle,New World Warblers ISBN 0-7136-3932-6

Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-8014-9600-4

Trent Thomas, Betsy, "Conoce nuestras aves" ISBN 980-257-032-X

External links

American Redstart Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla'' - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter

American Redstart Information and Photos - South Dakota Birds and Birding

American Redstart Bird Sound

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article American Redstart

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