American Redstart

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

American redstart

American redstart./T. Berriman

General: These handsome warblers hover among foliage and often flash out to grab insects in midair. Males are a striking orange and black; females are a more muted gray, with yellow patches. In the Northeast and Upper Midwest, redstarts breed in woodland edges, small gaps in the forest where low vegetation grows densely, and second-growth woods. They nest in trees 4 to 70 feet up, rarely on the ground. When American redstarts live in mature forest, they typically choose disturbed areas, such as spots where trees have fallen and low vegetation grows thick.

Status: Breeding Bird Survey data show American redstart populations are declining significantly, owing to a loss of forested habitat, young forest, and shrubland.
How to Help American Redstarts: Some studies suggest that American redstarts are harmed by forest fragmentation, so a good strategy is to make smaller forest cuts – sometimes called "patch cuts" – that create small gaps in the forest canopy, stimulating dense low growth. Redstarts have also been found using clearcuts and forest edges. Conservationists think that the best habitat-management techniques for this species probably vary from region to region. This publication from southeastern Ohio offers management suggestions.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visiting a habitat demonstration area within this species' range is a good way to increase your chances of seeing American redstarts and other young forest wildlife.