Saturday, 2 February 2013

American Redstart

order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Parulidae     Family : Setophaga ruticilla

The solitary American redstart performs aerial rushes for display and defense and devours insects in midair during feeding frenzies in the forest. The American redstart is an agile and diminutive songbird with a long, thin beak, which it uses to capture prey in midair. They found throughout North America in parts of Canada and the U.S.; winters in Central and South America and the West Indies.

Habitat : The American redstart lives in a variety of habitats: it frequents deciduous and tropical forests, mangroves, savannahs, suburban areas and mixed forests. In winter, the redstart migrates to light woodlands and scrub habitats from the southern U.S. to South America and also in Jamaica. In Venezuela, adult male redstarts are found in forests, while females and young males prefer mangroves. 
Food & Feeding : The American redstart is constantly on the lookout for its insect prey, frequently hopping between the branches of trees and shrubs in search of beetles and caterpillars. As the day warms and insects become more active, the redstart searches for prey in flight, snatching insects, such as moths and wasps, in midair. It also hovers around foliage to catch flies. Rictal bristles around the mouth protect the bird’s eyes as it captures flying insects. In winter and during migrations the redstart eats seeds and berries, including barberry, juneberries and magnolia seeds. The bird’s long, thin bill promotes the quick capture of either plant or animal food. 
Behavior : The American redstar t’s song consists of high, thin notes that produce a pleasant buzzing sound. Although the male is most often heard as he establishes and defends his territory in the spring, females also sing. The redstar t is extremely active throughout the year and flits through trees and scrubs as it forages. Usually solitary, the redstart occasionally will form flocks with other species, including white-throated sparrows, during foraging trips on wintering grounds. 
Breeding : American redstarts leave their winter home in Central and South America and the West Indies in March, heading north to breeding grounds ranging from Alaska to Georgia. Males arrive first and stake out territories, usually less than 1 acre in size. A male defends his area through warning chirps and aerial displays. During courtship, he raises his wings and holds them perpendicular to the ground, and spreads his tail feathers to show his bold orange-red plumage, a symbol of his maturity. Males also court females by bringing them food. The female builds a nest high in the trees, usually 10–20' above ground, most often nestled in the crotch of the tree.The nest is a deep cup made mostly of grasses, lined with feathers and material such as deer hair. The female lays 3–5 greenish-white eggs, with small, brown specks, and incubates them alone for 12 days. Both parents feed the young chicks for 8–10 days until they are capable of finding their own food. Fledglings join the adults in August to begin the migratory journey south. They look like adult females; males will attain adult plumage in two years. 


Bill : The redstart uses its thin, pointed bill to snatch insects in flight and glean them from foliage. 
Bristles : Rictal bristles around the mouth protect the redstart’s eyes from damage caused by flying insects. 
Plumage : The male is glossy black with a white belly and patches of orange on its wings, sides and tail. 
Feet : Like most true flycatchers, the redstart has slim, weak legs and long, slim toes, adapted more for perching than walking. 
In Flight : In flight, the male redstart reveals distinctive large orange patches on the wings and tail. 


Weight : 0.3 oz. 
Length : 4.5-5.75"
Wingspan : 8.5-9"
Sexual Maturity : 1-2 years
Breeding Season : April–July 


Latin Americans refer to the redstart as candelita, or little torch, because of its flashes of red and orange. When incubating, the American redstart turns the eggs once every 8 minutes. This ensures that there is equal heating throughout the eggs and prevents embryonic membranes from sticking to the inner surface of the shell.