Redstart

Phoenicurus phoenicurus

14cm

Appearance

The Redstart is more slender than the Robin and has longer wings, a longer tail and a vivid reddish orange tail and rump. The sexes are different. The male is blue-grey on top, his throat and face are black, he has a white forehead and ring around his eye, and he is reddish orange underneath, the colour brightest on his breast. He has a dark bill and legs. Females are greyish-brown on top and buffish orange underneath. Juveniles are mottled, but the tail has a red tinge.

Habitat

Mostly found in upland areas in the northern and western parts of the region. Prefers to breed in woodland with a mixture of trees, in parks or in hilly countryside. Occasionally nests beside water or in rocky territory.

Character

Usually sings when still on a perch. It's an active bird otherwise, fluttering and hovering, often appearing similar to a Robin. Spends more time in trees than grounded.

Food

Diet includes flies, beetles, moths, ants, spiders, worms, fruits and plants.

Breeding

Female lays 5-7 eggs in April, and she incubates for 13-14 days. Primarily the female who feeds the young, though the male contributes. Young fledge at 16-17 days old and gain independence 2-3 weeks later. There are often two broods in a season.

Population

The Redstart is a summer visitor to the region, arriving around April and departing towards the end of August. Approximately 100 000 pairs of Redstarts breed in the UK each year, but they're much rarer in Ireland, with a maximum of 10 breeding pairs.

Observation Tips

Best to observe on breeding grounds; the west and north of the region during May provide the best chances of a sighting. The song can help locate and identify these birds too, and it's worth regularly checking perches, because Redstarts often use these before taking to the air in pursuit of insects, and also for singing.

Voice

Its song is melodic and mournful, often with a machine-like clang. Also had a 'huweet' call and a more piercing sound if disturbed.
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