Bird Families

Redstart bird


The Russian Bird Conservation Union named the redstart the bird of 2015. The most famous and widespread among us is the common redstart (it is also the garden redstart, coot redstart). This small, smaller than a sparrow, a bird of the flycatcher family with a bright red tail, which it often twitches. As a result, the red spot becomes clearly visible against the background of the gray back and brown wings of the bird and resembles a flaring ember. Other external signs of this bird: males have a reddish entire lower body, the sides of the head and throat are black, and the forehead is white (hence the name bald). Females are light brown, darker above, with brown wings. Juveniles are brownish with dark streaks. The main identifying feature - an orange-red tail - is present in males, females, and young birds.

The red, "burning" tail of the bird became the reason for its Russian name. The fiery tail was also noted by Karl Linnaeus, who in 1758 described the redstart under the Latin name Phoenicurus phoenicurus, which can be translated as "Phoenix Tail". The phoenix, we recall, according to ancient legend, burned in the fire and was reborn again, and the Greek word οὐρά means a tail.

In English, the redstart is called redstart... Word start in this case goes back to Middle English stert and Old English steort "tail". To the word start, meaning "to begin" (from Old English styrtan "Jump up") it has nothing to do. The bird's red tail caught the eye of other peoples as well. Therefore, in many languages, the name of the redstart means "red tail" (Italian codirosso, Swedish rödstjärt, greek κοκκινούρης, Danish rødstjert, Belarusian ore tail). The redstart also has a name in Spanish abanicowhich literally means fan. Apparently, the attentive Spaniards noticed how the male redstart periodically opens its tail, like a fan. Finnish name for redstart leppälintu "Alder bird". Romanians call her codraş, which can be translated as "lesovik", but they also know the name coadă-roşie "Red tail".

The redstart lives in deciduous forests, often in gardens and parks. She arranges nests in hollows, in stumps, sometimes even on the ground under bushes. The redstart also settles in niches of human buildings, even in woodpiles. Usually the redstart keeps low, on the branches of trees, on bushes, flies to the ground, where it looks for food for itself. However, the singing male can take up space at the top of the tree.

Bird singing expert Ivan Shamov wrote about the redstart: “In April, as soon as the gardens begin to dry out after the spring thaw, as the redstart is already here, it flew from distant countries to its nesting sites, year after year looking for its corner without error, and from early in the morning, as soon as a streak of light appears in the east, the bird announces the garden with its modest characteristic song, in the month of May its song is not interrupted even at night. On hearing it seems to come out with the words: fi! re-re-re-re, blossom-blossom. so invariably repeated in one plan, but it is remarkable that the redstart almost never puts the same ending in her song, but a new one every time. And with this the bird is very entertaining, you always listen with pleasure and try to make out what the ending will be. Usually it consists of the urges of different birds. In addition to this song of the redstart, the reader undoubtedly heard her characteristic urge: quit! whit !, which she repeats loudly and for a long time, especially before bad weather, and when she is worried about something, she shouts: whit-te-tech! " (Our Songbirds, 1910).

In the singing and cries of many birds, people are used to hearing meaningful words and phrases. For example, it was believed that the lapwing asked: “Whose are you? Whose are you? ", and lentils:" Did you see Vitya? Have you seen Nikita? " The singing of the redstart did not escape such a folk interpretation. The peasants of the Smolensk province believed that the redstart boasted "I was in St. Petersburg, I was in St. Petersburg ... I saw Peter, I saw Peter."

The redstart feeds on insects. The bird looks for them on the ground and on the branches, and can catch them on the fly. In 1940, the ornithologist A.N. Promptov calculated that a redstart feeding its chicks brought food to the nest 469 times a day. Redstarts hunt both flying insects and caterpillars. The diameter of the hunting area reaches 200 - 300 meters. At the end of summer, the redstart adds berries to its diet.

Redstart with prey

In May, the redstart lays 5 - 9 blue eggs. Incubation lasts about 15 days, and about the same number of redstarts feed the brood. When the chicks leave the nest, and this happens by mid-June, the parents take care of them for a few more days, and then the young redstarts begin to live independently, and the adults begin the second clutch - in most of the range, climatic conditions allow this to be done. Redstarts begin to fly to the south in September, occasionally linger until mid-October. They hibernate in Africa and South Arabia.

Distribution and wintering zone of the common redstart

A relative of the common redstart is the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros). She has no white spot on her head, and her throat and chest are black. But, of course, the main feature of the redstart is preserved - the red tail.

This bird is interesting for the history of its distribution. The original habitats of the black redstart are mountains in Europe and Asia. Its Asian subspecies continue the life of the inhabitants of the mountains: in the Altai, Tien Shan, Sayan, Dzhungar Alatau, in the southern part of Tibet and the Himalayas, in the mountains of Iran, on the Ordos plateau, in the Caucasus, in the Hindu Kush. Chernushki nest on rocks and scree. For the winter they fly to India, Ethiopia and Somalia, the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula.

A different fate was for the black redstart - the inhabitants of the Carpathians, the Alps and other mountainous regions of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. With the growth of cities, they gradually settled among the stone buildings, which, apparently, seemed to them like rocks. As a result, slowly but surely the black redstart began to spread beyond its native mountains.

Distribution of various subspecies of the black redstart

A. Bram wrote about her: "Initially, the redstart was a mountain bird and nested on the rocks, but now in Germany it has become a house bird and has learned to arrange nests in buildings, without making a distinction between crowded cities and individual farms." Bram notes that this bird was seen in the Crimea on the ruins of the Malakhov Kurgan, where "her melancholic song was very useful."

Having settled in the mountain villages of the Carpathians and the Alps, the black redstart continued to descend below, to the flat cities. At first, it did not particularly move away from its original habitats, but in the middle of the 20th century it began to spread rather quickly north and south from central Europe. Some authors write that the resettlement of the black redstart took place after the Second World War, when there were many ruins in the cities, where this bird could make nests, as in the rocks familiar to it. The black redstart outside the mountainous regions and now lives mainly in cities, settling in the holes of concrete slabs, ventilation ducts, other niches and depressions of buildings.

Ornithologist M.S.Dolbin in 1956 for the first time noted the appearance of the black redstart in the Belarusian Polesie. L. L. Semago met her in Voronezh in 1963. And the author of an essay about redstarts on the website of the Russian Bird Conservation Union, Oleg Borodin, says that he was the first in the Ulyanovsk region to notice the black redstart in 1980.

On the territory of Russia there are several more representatives of the genus redstart. The Siberian redstart lives in eastern Siberia (Phoenicurus auroreus). In the mountains of Altai, Sayan and Tien Shan, there is a gray-headed redstart (Phoenicurus caeruleocephala), red-backed redstart (Phoenicurus erythronotus) and red-bellied redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogastrus). The last of the named species can be found in the Caucasus as well.

Description and features

The size of the bird is comparable to the size of the familiar sparrow, 10-16 cm. The weight of an individual is approximately 18-20 grams. The wingspan of the bird's wings is up to 25 cm. The legs are thin, high. A small bird cannot be overlooked due to the bright color of the abdomen and tail feathers.

The fiery orange color gave the name to the birds. Redstart in the photo testifies that it cannot be confused with anyone else. The head, back is gray. The cheeks and the neck are black. The female has a brownish color of the plumage, with red tan marks - less striking than that of the male. Young individuals have gray plumage with ocher spots. By autumn, the color of all birds fades, becomes muted.

The bird has a wide, slightly elongated beak. It is perfectly suited for catching prey. A feature of the movement of the redstart is the frequent twitching of an extraordinary tail.

Migrating birds go to winter in Central Africa in early autumn. They always fly away at night in September - early October. In spring, in March - April, they return to their native places of nesting.

Attempts to keep birds in cages are successful with good care. But the redstart gets used to humans for a long time, sings little in captivity. At first, the wings are tied to the birds, otherwise they beat against the cage and die.

Redstart more often than other relatives it is found in the description of species from the order of passerines of the flycatcher family. In total, redstarts include 13 species that inhabit India, China, and many Asian countries. The main differences between birds are in the original color of the plumage. Everyone is united by a fragile physique, an awl-shaped beak.

Common redstart

For Russia, the habitat of redstarts is characteristic:

  • gray-headed (ordinary),
  • black redstart,
  • garden,
  • Siberian,
  • red-bellied,
  • redstart-coots.

Gray-headed (common) redstart. Luxurious plumage, orange and black, is inherent in males. The white forehead gave the name to the species. A beautiful bird cannot be confused with anyone; sonorous singing is inherent in it. The redstart lives in northwestern Africa, a vast part of Eurasia.

Gray-headed redstart

Black Redstart. A small bird, smaller than a sparrow, the mass of an individual is only 14-18 grams. The male has black plumage of the forehead, cheeks, neck, the upper part of the body is gray, the tail is orange with black specks.

Redstart female more uniform in color, undertail and upper tail, as in the male, red tones. Birds live in the mountainous landscapes of Asia and Europe. They love rocky niches, cliffs, pebble slopes.

Black redstart

In cities, birds are attracted by industrial zones with factory chimneys, scaffolding. We noticed black redstart gathering in groups on the domes of churches. Chernushki singing is rough, hoarse, with multiple repetitions.

The redstart is garden. A bright bird, the top of which is ashy, the forehead, throat, wings are partially black, the abdomen is white. Bright red plumage adorns the chest, sides, tail. There is a white speck on the forehead. Females are more modest in color, although rusty-red edges also adorn the gray outfit.

Garden redstart female

Favorite habitat - in the trees of old parks, orchards. Inhabits redstart bird in coniferous, mixed forests with thickets of shrubs. The songs of the garden dweller are euphonic, sonorous. Bird watchers note a tendency to imitate other people's trills, for which they call her a mockingbird.

Siberian redstart. The color resembles an ordinary (gray-headed) representative of the species, but the white spot is not present on the head, but on the wings. The name of the bird reflects the habitat. Found in the south of Siberia, in the Amur region. Builds nests under the roofs of houses, in the hollows of old trees, in the cracks of rocky cliffs.

Siberian redstart

Red-bellied redstart. Among relatives, the bird is larger in size. The color resembles the Siberian species, but the plumage is brighter. Redstart male with a reddish-red breast and white spots on the sides on the wings. The female has no light spots. In Russia, it is found in the mountains of the Central Caucasus, South Siberia. Favorite habitat - in thickets of sea buckthorn, river willow.

Red-bellied redstart

Redstart coot. A small bird, very mobile and melodious. Bright color, slender build and lively disposition draw attention to the inhabitants of parks, gardens, forest wilderness.

Redstart coot

Constant shaking of the red tail, high legs, frequent flights are inherent in the coot. The bird got its name for a white spot on its forehead. Singing redstart sonorous, beautiful, with elements of imitation at the end. The early songs of the bald at dawn are sometimes confused with nightingale trills.

Listen to the voice of the redstart coot

Lifestyle and habitat

The range of the redstart is wide, passing through the territory of North-West Africa, Asia and Europe. Birds spend the winter in the south of the range, and with the arrival of spring they return to Europe. The arrival of birds depends on warming and the appearance of a food base - the abundance of insects in gardens, parks, forest zones.

Redstarts avoid sparse areas, and their appearance in the forest-steppe is unlikely. Their favorite places are old parks with hollow trees. Urban bird populations often outnumber forest birds.

The redstart prefers a solitary existence, so the birds keep separate from each other. Groups are formed only in case of accumulation of food in one place. Each redstart occupies an individual site.

Until July, you can hear their melodious singing, especially at night. Young males sing more than others. Their singing lasts almost around the clock. Later, the birds are quiet. In late July - early August, the redstart has a molting season. With the arrival of autumn, birds fly away to winter in the southern zones of their range - the countries of Africa, to the Arabian Peninsula.

Observations of redstarts show that they love to nest in gardens in specially prepared houses on tall trees. The males arrive first to take a seat and show the arriving females their readiness to meet.

Bright tails, like beacons, lure the couple to the nesting place. This attraction of birds by gardeners is of great benefit. The future harvest is protected from insect pests: caterpillars, mosquitoes, leaf beetles. The closeness to humans does not bother birds.


The diet of redstarts, like all flycatchers, is based on insects. This feature makes the birds the undoubted protectors of forests, parks and gardens. In one season, the redstart destroys a myriad of various beetles, ants, bedbugs, dung beetles, flies, mosquitoes, and their larvae. Birds hunt, as a rule, on the fly, swallowing flying insects in the air. Catching prey in flight is more typical for males.

Redstart females prefer to hunt down ground food from the hills, settling on the lower branches of plants, niches of buildings. Having noticed prey, birds dive to the surface of the earth for spiders, earthworms, millipedes, snails, caterpillars.

The food supply for the redstart is very diverse. At the end of summer, plant foods are added to the diet. Birds feast on forest and garden berries, plant seeds. It is noticed that they love elderberry, currant, raspberry.

The process of finding food, eating it is interesting. Birds inspect trunks, cracks, observe the movement of branches and leaves. The caught prey is not immediately absorbed, it is transferred to a safe place for a meal.

The redstart deals with large insects in stages. First stuns with its beak and throws from a height to immobilize prey. Then he cuts it into pieces. In small grasshoppers, running insects, the legs are pinched off before eating.

Redstarts are very caring in feeding their babies. With their beak, they first grind food to a mushy state, only then send the processed berries or insects to the beaks of the heirs.Gluttonous chicks harass their parents to physical exhaustion. Parents visit the nest up to 500 times a day, bringing chopped food in their beak.

Reproduction and life expectancy

The spring arrival of redstarts for nesting occurs in mid-April. First, males appear, followed by young animals, females are the last to reach. The task of the males is to find the best corner for the future nest. A struggle begins between the males in the capture of cozy places. The male marks his territory, protects, calls the female with inviting songs in a high place.

Redstart eggs

For future nests, birds choose old hollows, thick tree branches, voids between protruding roots, niches in woodpiles, secluded places behind the cladding of buildings. Shallow caves and attics also attract secretive redstart.

Pieces of bark, dry twigs, leaves, threads found by birds, ropes, pieces of cloth, scraps of paper become the building material. The rookery inside is lined with moss, pieces of wool, cotton wool, feathers. The nest is always covered from the outside by a canopy, branches, hidden from prying eyes. Hide is usually discovered by accident, it is so well disguised.

In May - early June, the formation of the nest is completed. Interestingly, neither noise, nor human proximity, nor smells interfere with an important stage in bird life. Soon a clutch of 5-8 bluish eggs is formed. It is mainly the female who is engaged in incubating the future offspring. The male occasionally replaces her during this period. The incubation of eggs lasts up to 2 weeks.

When the chicks hatch, the concerns of the parents increase many times over. For 2-3 weeks, they continuously hunt and bring food to the insatiable chicks. Redstarts are caring parents.

Redstart eggs

It is no coincidence that cuckoos toss their eggs into their nests. Each redstart chick fed, even if he turned out to be a foundling. Caring for cuckoos is the same as for native birds.

Feeding the young lasts even after the first flight of chicks from the nest. Anxious parents show concern until the offspring firmly stand on the wing and begin to wander through the forest on their own in search of food. Only after this does the family break up. This process usually lasts for a month.

During the season, the redstarts manage to start a new clutch of eggs a second time and pass the parental path again with the same touching care for the brood. Young animals reach sexual maturity by the first year of life.

Redstart chicks

Favorable conditions allow redstarts to live for 7-9 years. There is a known case of record longevity - 9.5 years. Being in captivity often shortens their existence. It is noticed that these birds are very freedom-loving.

In 2015, the redstart, as one of the most widespread birds in need of human care, was declared the Bird of the Year in Russia. Preserving the species diversity and number of birds is a common task for nature lovers.

Definition of "Gray-headed redstart (phoenicurus caeruleocephalus vig.)" In EBNB

This mountain redstart inhabits only the mountain coniferous forests of the Tien Shan and Dzhungarskiy Alatau in Kazakhstan. Unlike the two previous species, it flies outside Kazakhstan for the winter. It hibernates, possibly already in the south of Central Asia. Its flight in Kazakhstan is expressed only in the Western Tien Shan.

This is the only redstart with a black tail. The outfit of the male resembles a mourning robe: he is almost all black, only the abdomen and the mirror on the wing are white, and the crown of the head is bluish-ash. The female is grayish-brown with a black tail and chestnut-red uppertail. Otherwise, it is a real redstart, only it catches insects in the air a little more often than other species. Calling - quiet, and during an alarm - a piercing clatter, something like "tsktsktsktsk". The song is very peculiar, but very quiet, it consists of multiple repetitions of the sounds "trts-trts-trts". Males usually sing on the tops of trees, while the lower branches most often serve as a hunting supplement for them.

Chicks are hatched twice a summer. Nest in a shelter: under a stone, grassy hummock, under a stump, or in a rock niche. A clutch of 3 - 5 light (from white with a bluish tint to beige) eggs is incubated by the female for two weeks. Both birds feed the chicks for the same amount of time in the nest, bringing them insects, mollusks, millipedes and other invertebrates up to 100 times a day. Already a week after the chicks leave, the female sits down to incubate a new clutch, and the male feeds and takes care of the already well-flying chicks for another week. In August, during molting, both adults and young people eat honeysuckle berries en masse.
In Kazakhstan, they are found from April to October.