Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Scientific name: Phoenicurus phoenicurus

The Redstart is a common small passerine bird. It is a summer visitor, wintering in north Africa. The male Redstarts first arrive early in April, often a few days in advance of the females.

It is a bird of the woodlands and open park land, especially where the timber is old enough to supply cracks and crannies suitable for its nest.

In many of its habits and actions the Redstart shows an affinity to the Robin. It has the same general carriage, and chat-like behaviour, and is the same size at 14 cm in length.

The rich chestnut tail, from which it and other redstarts get their names, is always in motion.

The male in summer has a slate-grey head and upperparts, except the rump and tail, which, like the flanks, underwing coverts and axillaries are orange-chestnut. The forehead and supercilium are white; the sides of the face and throat are black. The wings and the two central tail feathers are brown. The orange on the flanks shades to almost white on the belly. The bill and legs are black. In autumn, broad margins obscure the colours of the male, giving a washed-out appearance.

The female is browner, with paler underparts; she lacks the black and slate, and her throat is whitish.

The male's song is similar to that of the Robin, but never more than a prelude, since it has an unfinished, feeble ending.

The Redstart feeds like a flycatcher, making aerial sallies after passing insects, and most of its food consists of winged insects.

Information and photograph courtesy of