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American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla


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American Redstart, male
credit: Dan Pancamo/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Parulidae, Wood Warblers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mostly black upperparts, but with striking orange patches on wings and base of tail. Head, neck, and chest are black, with orange on sides of breast and flanks, and otherwise white underparts. ADULT FEMALE Has greenish gray back, wings, and tail, grayish head, and grayish white underparts; orange elements of male's plumage are yellow. IMMATURE Similar to adult female, although some (probably females) have only indistinct yellow color on wings and some males show orange tone to color on flanks and side of breast. First-spring females like adult females; first-spring males show some adult feather details. Full adult plumage is acquired with subsequent molt.

Dimensions Length: 4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm)

Habitat Very common summer visitor (present mainly May-Aug) to a wide range of wooded habitats, including mature gardens and secondary woodland; range extends across much of the region. Winters mainly in Central and South America, but a few linger in southern Florida.

Observation Tips Easy to see, fun to watch, and usually not especially bothered by people.

Range Texas, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, California, Southeast, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Alaska, Florida, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest

Voice Song is a thin, sweet see-see-see-see-shweer; call is a thin chip.

Discussion Familiar and well-marked wood-warbler, male of which is stunning. All birds forage actively, often fanning tail to reveal colorful patches at base (orange in adult male, yellow in other plumages); this behavior may startle insect prey allowing easier detection. Sexes are dissimilar.