American Redstart

photo by Phil Swanson

Setophaga ruticilla
L 5 1/4″ (13 cm).

Song or calls:
Variable song is series of high, thin notes usually followed by wheezy, downslurred note.

Description: Male is glossy black with a white belly; bright orange patches on outer tail feathers, wings, and sides; white undertail coverts. Female is gray-olive above; white below; yellow tail, wing, and side patches. Immature resembles female.

Behavior: Often spreads its tail and wings while perched, showing off its conspicuous, colorful patches.

Habitat: Young or second-growth deciduous woodlands, moist bottomland woods, and near openings of mature forests.

Where in Nebraska: Common summer resident in eastern counties, Pine Ridge area, probably the entire Niobrara Valley, and locally in the Sandhills.

Nebraska Seasons: Common spring and fall migrant across the state.

Fun Facts: American Redstarts are known in some areas as “latrine birds” because of their tendency to look for flies around outhouses and garbage dumps.

female American Redstart - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)