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American Redstart

Silhouette WarblersWarblers
American RedstartSetophaga ruticilla
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Parulidae

Basic Description

A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers. Females and immature males have more subdued yellow “flash patterns” on a gray background. These sweet-singing warblers nest in open woodlands across much of North America.

More ID Info
image of range map for American Redstart
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

In deciduous woodlands, American Redstarts are fairly conspicuous compared to other small birds of the leafy canopy and subcanopy. They are seemingly hyperactive, repeatedly dashing through trees and bushes after unseen insects, or prancing along branches, rapidly spreading and closing its black-and-yellow or black-and-orange tail. Males sing their sweet, explosive songs frequently during spring and early summer. American Redstarts are common spring and fall migrants in the East. It is a later spring migrant (arriving in May in much of the U.S. and Canada) and a mid-season fall migrant (September-early October).

Other Names

  • Candelita Norteña (Spanish)
  • Paruline flamboyante (French)

Backyard Tips

In late summer, redstarts visit plants with small berries and fruits, such asserviceberry and magnolia. A bird-friendly backyard full of native trees and shrubs provides an excellent food-rich place for warblers and other migrants to stop and refuel. Read about growing native plants for warblers.

  • Cool Facts