Alert Status: Amber – 12% decline
Identifying Features: Easily identifiable by their bright orange-red tails, which they often quiver. Breeding males have slate grey upper parts, black faces and wings and an orange rump and chest. Females and young are duller.
Average Length: 13-14.5 cm
Average Lifespan: 2 years
Average Wingspan: 21-24 cm
Beak type: Insects
Natural: Insects and their larvae, berries in autumn
Nesting: The Redstart will breed almost anywhere: woodland, parks, orchards, heath, gardens, stone walls and quarries. The nest is usually in a hole, either in a tree, wall or rocks, and is cup-shaped and made from dead grass, moss, wool, hair and feathers. The female builds the nest. Redstarts will nest in open-fronted nest boxes.
Where to See: Woodland areas
The redstart is a colourful and handsome summer visitor that enjoys the mild and wet conditions of the UK’s west coast woodlands. This petite bird is around the same size as a robin and is immediately identifiable by its bright orange-red tail, which often quivers.iver. Redstarts have bright red underparts, black facial features and a smooth grey colouring that starts at the crown and ends at the tip of the tail.
The male redstart, with it’s rich red-orange rump and chest is a truly wonderful sight. The small songbird has grey upperparts and it’s black face and throat are contrasted by a silvery-white forehead. Females are much duller than the males, the colour of her breast is much less intense and this can vary quite a lot between birds. On some it is faint and on others, it may not be visible at all. The only distinct splash of colour on the female redstart is the bright, rusty-red underside of its tail, although this can be hard to spot. The juvenile Redstarts are mottled brown.
Arriving in the UK in April from western Asia and northwest Africa, and staying until September, the redstart can be observed in the north and west of the UK, with higher concentrations in Wales; it is possible to view them as far north as the extreme of Scotland and they can turn up anywhere during migration. The males arrive in the UK a little earlier than the females so that they can establish their territories so that they have something to offer the females when they arrive!
Redstarts are tree dwellers, nesting and feeding in mature oak woodlands, and sometimes hedgerows. This little bird thrives in wet and mild conditions. Look out for them among the branches as they rarely descend to ground level. Redstarts feed on insects, such as spiders. They especially like butterfly and beetle larvae.
Redstarts are cavity-nesting birds and use the hollows of mature trees, however they will use buildings and nest boxes. Breeding takes place between May and July. The female fills the cavity with nesting material in the form of stalks, leaves, sticks, moss or lichen. The nest is padded with plenty of soft material such as hair and feathers. Once the light blue-green eggs, usually 5 or 6 are laid, they are incubated for about two weeks. After that, the parents feed their young for around two weeks before the chicks are large enough to explore their surroundings. By the end of August, at the latest, the young fly the nest, ready for their first big journey.
The song of the redstart sounds somewhat melancholic and consists of a sequence of clear whistling notes. Although the exact structure varies, the song usually begins with a single high note, then moves into a descending series of whistling notes, and ends with variously shaped final notes: “Sii-tü-tü-tü-tü-jik-jik”.