[Authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [group] New World warblers | [order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Parulidae | [latin] Setophaga ruticilla | [UK] American Redstart | [FR] Sylvette flamboyant | [DE] Schnapper-Waldsanger | [ES] Chipe Rey Americano | [NL] Amerikaanse Roodstaart

copyright: Bill Wayman

Quite small but long-tailed, elegant, extremely active Nearctic wood warbler, with bright orange (male) to yellow (female, immature) patches at shoulder, along bases of flight-feathers, and on bases of outer tail. male otherwise black, with white belly; female and immature otherwise greyish-green, with white spectacle and underparts. Flicks wings and spreads tail constantly.

Breeds in cool and warm temperate zones of Nearctic, mainly in deciduous woodlands having openings or swampy places, but also in open second growth on moist lowlands. Also lives on borders of pastures, in orchards, and even among shade trees and garden shrubbery, sometimes near dwellings. Winters in South America in coastal mangroves, suburban areas, thorny thickets and forests to savannas, up to 3000 m.

Breeds in North America from south-east Alaska east across western and southern Canada to Newfoundland, south to Utah in west (absent from much of Great Plains area) and to Gulf of Mexico coast further east. Accidental. Iceland, Britain, Ireland, France, Azores, Madeira (Selvagem Grande).

Small insects and other invertebrates make up most of the American Redstart's diet. In late summer, they may supplement this diet with berries and seeds.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Monogamous pairs are the norm, but some males may have two or three mates at a time. The male shows the female potential nest sites during courtship, and the female makes the final selection. The nest is nestled against a trunk, or attached to vertical stems, from 10 to 180 cm off the ground. The female builds the nest, which is an open cup made of bark, grass, rootlets, and other plant fibers. The lining is usually made of feathers and hair. The outside may be camouflaged with lichen and birch bark, and the whole nest is held together with spider webbing. Sometimes American Redstarts will use old nests of other birds. The female typically incubates 4 eggs for 10 to 13 days. Both members of the pair feed the young. About 9 days after hatching, the young leave the nest, and the parents divide the brood, each taking half, and continue to feed them for at least a few more days.

Migrant; southernmost breeding areas only 600-800 km from northernmost wintering grounds, although most birds move further. Winters in West Indies and from Mexico south to northern Peru, northern Brazil, and Guianas. Migration in both seasons is on broad front, birds crossing Gulf of Mexico as well as skirting it to east and west. In Bermuda, where wintering is regular, very common on passage in autumn, but inconspicuous in spring. Rare autumn vagrant to Atlantic seaboard of west Palearctic. In Britain and Ireland, 7 records up to 1990, mainly from south-west England and southern Ireland, October-November, but once in December.