American Redstarts are members of the warbler family that is found throughout much of the continental U.S., and large parts of Canada-though only during migration in some areas.
While many warbler species can be difficult to identify, American Redstarts have features found only with this species. The male, shown in the top pic, is readily identifiable with his black and orange plumage that is unmistakable. He even has orange on the base of his tail that he frequently flashes, a strategy used to ‘flush insects from foilage’ per Cornell’s All About Birds website. I think he is quite a handsome dude.
Female American Redstarts, like many other birds, are less boldly colored than their male counterparts (a characteristic that helps them avoid detection when sitting on the nest). They do have some bright yellow to their plumage including on their sides as clearly seen on the bird above. And they have bright yellow on their wings and at the base of their tails as seen on the bird below.
Listen to them sing on the Audubon Guides website (click on one of the listed recordings to start the player).
Isn’t it wonderful that there are so many very colorful birds? Many bird species will use our yards if we offer a place that provides the food, water and shelter they need. Just this week my yard was visited by 3 species of warblers, Gray Catbirds, Indigo and Lazuli Buntings, as well as Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeak. Some used my yard as a migration stop-over where they could eat to fuel up for the rest of their trip while a few others may nest nearby. I was thrilled to have all these colorful visitors.
Though American Redstarts are known to eat small berries during the winter, their primary food source is insects. Yards that have insects are more likely to attract birds such as the American Redstart or many other species including hummingbirds as they also eat insects . Even birds that are primarily seed eaters often feed insects to their young. The National Audubon Society has an Audubon At Home website that has a lot of information in their Healthy Yards sections to help you make your yard a more inviting and healthy place for not only the birds but your children, your pets and for yourself.