14 November, 2010

Belize Bird of the Week # 11 -- American Redstart, Setophaga ruticilla

As shown below, my first views of the American Redstart were the classic “bird from behind” perspective.

Here you can see the white underparts with the yellow tail feathers characteristic of a female or a 1st year male American Redstart.
 But for the American Redstart, that BFB view is the best way to ID it as it forages for insects.  It leans its head down, puts up its spread tail, and waggles it – all in the space a second or two. 

The darker male has orange instead of yellow.

The spread tail feathers really catch the light.

The wings have yellow or orange bars.

When they shake their tails, they also spread their wings.  And yes, this one is standing on a dog turd to do its dance. 
This little warbler that winters in Central America after breeding in North America feeds on the ground and in low underbrush.  It is so much fun to watch as it prances and dances with quite a shake of its tail feathers.  Knowing full well where you are, it often works it way very close you, especially if you don’t make sudden moves to startle it.

From this perspective you can see that the orange feathers are only on the sides of the tail.

The orange wingbars on the male are dashing.

Here you can see the yellow patches on either side of the chest, just in front of the wings on this female.  The yellow tail looks like band that goes from one side to the other when the tail is not spread.

This next picture should be the next to last one, but somehow it jumped ahead of where I tried to put it.   Can't seem to get it to stay put!
More obvious from here.

Here and below is a female with only half her tail yellow.
Here she is again.
Apparently no worse for it.
When I go back to Belize in February, they may still be around, getting ready fly back north in early spring.


  1. Hi Dave, I did not know that you were publishing pictures on Willma blog ;-) Oups sorry Willma, I did not know you were the twin of Dave ;-)
    I laugh a lot when I saw this post, because as you said, this is a "Dave typical" message... I love it thought, it is excellent!

  2. Chris -- yes, I did think of Dave when I saw all my BFB shots of this bird!


  3. That's a real show, shaking its tail like that.
    What a beauty though.

  4. Fabulous looking bird Wilma, great capture.
    Not sure about the canine excrement though.{:))

  5. What a way to remind me that when I go to Belize next year I have to be prepared to meet old friends, and as well as make a lot a new ones (or I hope so, at any rate)

  6. Keith -- they are very entertaining to watch; always busy.

    Roy -- I didn't notice what it was standing on until I was getting ready to load the image. I was really glad that i didn't hand feed it! ;-)

    ChrisP -- you will really like it. You will see the familiar birds in a different environment with some of the same behaviors and some different ones. Just like going on a trip with old friend to Vegas. And remember that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!


  7. Hello,

    Really it is a nice blog, I would like to tell you that you have given me much knowledge about it. Yes, Belize is a safe place to travel! Thanks a lot for your information.

  8. BT -- thanks for visiting and commenting.


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