American Redstart : : Setophaga ruticilla

This is a species that I remember from when I was a little girl, and first started looking at a Peterson Field Guide. I couldn't believe then that a bird with such bright patches of orange could be seen in the Midwest. It seemed too exotic and tropical for this part of the world.

Now as an adult, I happily spot them quite often in Spring, with the most recent sighting a couple of days ago and steps from my home. Both male and female sport bright patches of orange (male) and yellow (female) on wings and tail feathers. They're extremely active little birds, flashing their wings and tails to flush out insect prey from tree foliage.

As you can see in my painting above, males have dark black plumage with bright orange patches, and the females are grey with yellow patches. I just recently learned, however, that yearling males have the same plumage as the females. Their breeding range covers a large swath of the North American continent, and wintering ranges cover areas in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Greater Antilles.

As far as the Chicago area, I have seen them at the Montrose Bird Sanctuary (aka the Magic Hedge), Wooded Isle in Hyde Park, and along the Northshore Canal in the Evanston arboretum.

Thanks for checking in and have a lovely weekend.


  1. What beautiful birds and I love how you've started incorporating information about them using your hand lettering. Really so lovely!

  2. Thanks, Anne-Marie! Got that arctic book you recommended, btw. Loving it so far!


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