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17 Facts About Redstart

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Redstart is a fascinating bird species known for its vibrant colors and unique behavior. These small yet energetic birds are found in various parts of the world, from North America to Europe. Today, we will explore 17 interesting facts about redstarts that make them stand out among their feathered friends.

1. Redstart: The Name Explained

The name “redstart” comes from the bright red color of these birds’ tails and starts. The word “start” refers to the tail, while “red” is self-explanatory!

2. Two Distinct Species

There are two main species of redstart: the European redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). Both share similarities but also have their unique characteristics.

3. Gorgeous Plumage:

Redstarts are known for their striking appearance, with males sporting bright orange or reddish-brown feathers on their backs and heads. Females, on the other hand, tend to be more subdued with grayish-brown plumage.

4. Tail Display:

One unique characteristic of redstarts is their habit of fanning out their tails when displaying for mates or alarmed by something in their environment. This behavior is particularly noticeable during the breeding season.

5. Nest Building:

Redstarts build cup-shaped nests made from grass, leaves, bark strips, and moss lined with soft materials like feathers, hair, or lichen. They usually place their nests in trees or shrubs at moderate heights to protect them from predators.

6. Migratory Birds:

Both European and American redstarts are migratory birds, traveling long distances between their breeding grounds and winter habitats. The European redstart winters mainly in Africa, while the American redstart travels further south to Central America and the Caribbean.

7. Diet:

Redstarts primarily eat insects, such as caterpillars, beetles, flies, spiders, and wasps. During migration periods or in colder months when insects are less abundant, they may also consume small amounts of berries and seeds.

8. Vocalizations:

Redstarts have a distinct call that sounds like “chip-chip” or “tsee-tsee.” Males will sing melodious songs during the breeding season to attract females. These birds can be quite vocal, especially when defending their territory against other redstarts or rival species.

9. Breeding Season:

Redstarts typically breed between May and July, depending on their geographic location. The female lays 4-6 eggs in her nest, which hatch after about two weeks. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks until they fledge (leave the nest) around three weeks later.

10. Territorial Behavior:

Like many songbirds, redstarts are territorial during the breeding season, fiercely defending their chosen nesting sites from other birds. They may even chase intruders or engage in physical combat to assert dominance.

11. Lifespan:

The average lifespan of a redstart is about two years in the wild. However, some individuals have been known to live up to seven years under favorable conditions.

12. Conservation Status:

Both European and American redstarts are considered species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their populations remain stable due to their adaptability and wide-ranging habitats.

13. Declining Populations in Some Areas:

Despite being considered a species of least concern globally, some local populations of redstarts have declined due to habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect these beautiful birds and their habitats.

14. Symbolism:

In various cultures, the redstart is seen as a symbol of vitality, youthfulness, and renewal because it returns annually to its breeding grounds with vibrant colors after winter.

15. Folklore:

Redstarts have appeared in folk stories throughout history, often associated with supernatural beings or magical creatures. In some tales, the redstart’s tail signifies good luck or fortune for those who spot it.


The redstart is a remarkable bird species known for its striking appearance and interesting behaviors. These birds have captivated people for centuries, making them an essential part of our natural world. From their beautiful plumage to their melodious songs, the redstart remains an intriguing subject for study and admiration.

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