American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla

November 24, 2008

Last week at the museum, I worked on creating 5 study skins. Much of what Dr. Willard had taken out of the freezer that day were American Redstarts. Redstarts are small, highly active, acrobatic warblers. Males are striking for their bright orange patches against black on their tail feathers and wings. Females tend to be a greenish grey with yellow patches on tails and wings. Redstarts will often flash these bold color patches by fanning their tails and dropping their wings. This behavior aids in flushing out insect prey. Male redstarts resemble females in plumage until their second fall when they begin to acquire the distinctive orange and black feathers. Setophaga favors second growth deciduous forests, with lots of brush. I actually saw my first Redstart in the field on a Lake Michigan beach in a rough patch of bramble a ways back from the water's edge. It was a male hopping rapidly from branch to branch, flicking and flashing his tail and wings.

* this painting along with a few others are available in the Etsy Shop.

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