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Male American Redstarts

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Warblers — small, active, insect-eating birds — are often referred to as the “butterflies of the bird world” due to the striking breeding plumage of many of the males.  One warbler that’s hard to overlook due to its brilliant orange and black plumage is the male American Redstart.  Like most warblers, it is a very active feeder, flitting from branch to branch looking for insects.  However, it also occasionally feeds like a flycatcher — perching and flying out to capture insects in mid-air, giving you the opportunity to get a good look at it.

The breeding behavior of the American Redstart is of particular interest, in that not only is the male occasionally polygamous, as are many other bird species, the two females he mates with at the same time do not nest in the same territory.  The male holds two separate territories that can be separated by as much as a quarter-mile.  The male begins attracting a second female after the first has completed her clutch and is busy incubating the eggs.  Perhaps the bird world would benefit from a “Me Too” movement.

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11 responses

  1. judilindsey

    Hi Mary,

    I have a question about woodpeckers. We seem to have one that is fascinated with pecking an aluminum ladder. Day after day you can hear him rat-a-tat-tatting on it. It is crazy – and I wonder why he does it!

    Thanks, Judi

    >

    May 28, 2018 at 9:33 am

    • I think it’s a territory declaration thing, isn’t it? We had one, for several years, that would loudly peck our metal roof around 5:00 each morning in the spring. Clearly no insects were to be found there…

      May 28, 2018 at 10:03 am

    • Hi Judi,
      Most likely it’s a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and they inevitably find the loudest thing around to drum on(metal signs, satellite discs, metal ladders, etc. and hammer away, both to attract a female sapsucker and to establish and maintain a territory!

      May 28, 2018 at 10:07 am

  2. Perhaps the human world would benefit from a Redstart Movement. But to be fair, you’d have to ask the female redstarts how they feel about it.

    May 28, 2018 at 10:08 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    The females probably don’t know about each other, unless ‘he’ comes home with ‘beak-stick’ on his feathers.

    May 28, 2018 at 11:03 am

  4. Char Delabar

    Charles Kuralt must have been an American Redstart with his two families that were unaware of each other in two different parts of the country.

    >

    May 28, 2018 at 11:41 am

  5. Perhaps the bird world would benefit from a “Me Too” movement. LOL- yes maybe so!!! Ellen

    On Mon, May 28, 2018 at 9:24 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” Warblers — small, active, insect-eating birds — > are often referred to as the “butterflies of the bird world” due to the > striking breeding plumage of many of the males. One warbler that’s hard to > overlook due to its brilliant orange and black ” >

    May 28, 2018 at 7:19 pm

  6. Marie Winn

    I’d like to send you an article about redstarts. I only have a paper copy.

    May 28, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    • Thank you, Marie. My mailing address is 134 Densmore Hill Road, Windsor, VT 05089. I would love to read it!

      May 28, 2018 at 10:02 pm

  7. Linda H

    Your final comment made me chuckle.

    June 1, 2018 at 9:22 am

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