AMERICAN REDSTARTS ON ABACO: THE DISTAFF SIDE


American Redstart (f), Abaco 6 (Charles Skinner)

AMERICAN REDSTARTS ON ABACO: THE DISTAFF SIDE

I have a feeling that people are more familiar with the male American redstart than the female. The male’s striking near-black and orange livery is memorable. The female’s equivalent brown and yellow colour scheme is a little more subtle (or ‘drab’, which is a go-to bird book description where the male of a species is flamboyant; I prefer ‘subtle’ as a politer description). Charlie Skinner managed to get some lovely shots of females in the pines and scrub at the back of the Delphi beach. 

American Redstart (f), Abaco 1 (Charles Skinner)American Redstart (f), Abaco 2 (Charles Skinner)

These birds are one of the 37 warbler species recorded for Abaco, where they are common winter residents. Generally they start to arrive in October, and some are usually still around in March. It is believed that the flashing tail-spreading of both sexes, shown in some of these images, acts either to attract insects; or to confuse them in some way. I can’t think how or why. I imagine the tail-fanning also forms part of the redstart courtship rituals. Incidentally (*fun fact alert*) male redstarts are known to raise two families simultaneously, the nests being a convenient distance apart so that his deceit remains his secret.

American Redstart (f), Abaco 5 (Charles Skinner)American Redstart (f), Abaco 3 (Charles Skinner)

This pretty juvenile is impossible to sex at this age. Could go either way. (Photo: Becky Marvil)American Redstart (juv), Abaco (Becky Marvil)

For comparison, the more familiar male (and more brash – typical). (Photo: Gerlinde Taurer)Bahamas-Great Abaco_6374a_American Redstart_Gerlinde Taurer copy

Photo credits: Charlie Skinner, Becky Marvil, Gerlinde Taurer 

12 thoughts on “AMERICAN REDSTARTS ON ABACO: THE DISTAFF SIDE

  1. Saw a male this afternoon at my backyard birdbath here on eastern New Providence. Yesterday he was at the front birdbath which is under the Barbados cherry tree. You can’t miss those bright stripes!

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    • I’m glad you like the word choice. When I was researching my Abaco bird book, I got a bit tired of females routinely being described as ‘dull’, ‘drab’, etc. Some are, many are not (esp in sunlight). So I tried to upgrade the adjective. Or omit it! RH

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  2. Lovely photos of this very interesting bird. We are fortunate to have them breeding close by and as a result see the females & juveniles fly in for a drink or a bath. Am surprised to hear about the male raising 2 families concurrently …. maybe that’s why we usually see the males at the start of the season ….. and not as much once nesting begins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cheryl. They are underrated, I think! I guess the males have to spread themselves more thinly when breeding gets going… (I wonder if either female suspects – a rogue feather on his wing perhaps?)

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