American Redstart

Hey guys, welcome back. Today’s bird is yet another warbler, but this time one that is pretty easy to ID, the American redstart. One of two redstarts in the US, the American redstart is found throughout much of the country and Canada while the painted redstart is found only in small pockets of the desert southwest. The two have bright spots on their tails that they flash to scare insects making it easier to nab them for food. Pretty cool stuff.

American Redstart female2
A female/juvenile plumage American redstart, Central Park, NY

Despite having the color “red” in its name, you’ve probably noticed that the American redstart does not actually have any red on it. The adult male is black and orange with a white belly while females and juveniles are gray and yellow. The male redstart doesn’t acquire its black and orange plumage until its second year, and as such is rarely successful at finding a mate during that first breeding season. Many birds in fall obtain a drabber plumage. A lot of warblers follow this trend, making for some very difficult identifications during fall migration. The American redstart actually is one of few warblers that do not have different plumages for breeding and non-breeding season. But because the males take that 2 years to get their adult coloration, fall has more gray and yellow birds than black and orange ones.

American Redstart Male2
Adult male American redstart, Headlands State Park, Mentor, OH

The American redstart is one of the more common warblers out there. Like many bird species, the male often has more than one mate a season. One of the interesting things about the redstart, though, is that the male will often hold two completely different breeding territories, having a female in each. That seems like a lot of running around to me! Next up is one of the most terrifying birds out there, the mute swan. See you all then!

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