American Redstart

Common Name:American Redstart



Family Parulidae


Species:Setophaga ruticilla


Photo: Steven Pitt



American Redstarts are in the order Passeriformes and the family Parulidae which means they are perching birds in the family of New World Warblers. The American Redstart male is black with bright orange patches on wings and the tail. The female is olive brown with yellow flash-patches on the wings and tail. Both males and females have a white belly. First year immature males looks much like the female. This warbler is 12-14 centimeters and weighs 9-11 grams.



The American Redstart can be found in moist deciduous woods with abundant shrubs and they will often be seen in habitats that are near water. They also like open second-growth woodlands. American Redstarts breed in most of the United States and Canada, but are not common on the West Coast. They are migratory and will winter in Mexico, the West Indies to Brazil and northern Peru. Their primary food source is insects that they will find on trees which include flies, wasps, beetles, caterpillars and adult moths. They will also eat small berries and fruit as they become available in late summer. They forage from the forest floor to the canopy and will capture insects from trunks and leaves of trees and also on the wing.

Photo: M. Noonan




The American Redstart is territorial in the summer breeding season. Mainly males will fly around to proclaim their territorial boundaries. This warbler is butterfly-like and very active especially during the day. American Redstarts are monogamous and males will attract females through song and displays. Males may fluff their feathers, bow to the female and follow her around his territory. The female lays once clutch per year that consists of 3-5 eggs. Females build the nest in a cup shape out of twigs, grass, and bark and are glued together with spider silk.  The females incubate the eggs and the male will help with feeding of the young.


Photo: M. Noonan





These birds are commonly found in well lit deciduous woodlands during the summer. Some great places to see American Redstarts is at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, many of our state parks including Allegany State Park as well as Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.


Photo: M. Noonan

Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.