This member of the warbler
family is easily distinguished by the bright
orange markings eagerly displayed by males on
their wings, breast, and tail. Aside from its
orange markings, the male is black above and
white below. The female is gray where the male is
black, and yellow where the male is orange; she
also has a white eye-ring. Juveniles and
first-year males look like females. Both sexes
are similarly sized, being about 4.5 to 6 inches
long, with a wingspan of 6.3 to 7.5 inches, and
weighing 0.2 to 0.3 ounces.
In spring and summer, the
American redstart lives in moist, second-growth
hardwood forests with dense shrub layer
throughout most of the eastern and northern
United States, into southern Canada. In fall and
winter, it is found from Mexico through Central
America into South America, as well as Cuba and
other Caribbean islands.
Courtship and mating takes
place in June and July. Courtship consists
primarily of the male taking a female to a
potential nesting site and the female either
accepting the site or flying off to find another
male with a better site. American redstarts are
generally monogamous during the breeding season,
but some males may have two or three mates at a
time. A male lucky enough to attract more than
one mate will maintain a separate nesting
territory for each mate.
The nest, which is built
exclusively by the female, is a tightly woven cup
made from grass, lichens and other plant fibers
held together with spider silk located anywhere
from four to seventy feet above ground in a tree
or sapling. Two to five white, cream or greenish
eggs spotted with brown are incubated by the
female alone for about 12 days. Hatchlings are
born fairly helpless and are cared for by both
parents for about 20 days.
Redstarts are very active foragers, flitting
and flying around foliage scaring up insects,
many of which are caught and eaten in flight.
They will also feed on spiders and berries.
genus & species Setophaga ruticilla
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