AMERICAN REDSTARTS ON ABACO: MALES IN FOCUS
Time to rectify an omission and to feature the striking orange and black male American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla. A while ago I posted about the equally distinctive yellow and black females HERE (the dissimilar colouring between the sexes of these little warblers is due to differing carotin levels in each). These unmistakeable winter residents are common on Abaco. They are an easy warbler for new birders look out for, being unlike any other small warblerish-looking bird. All the birds here were photographed on Abaco.
TEN REDSTARTLING FACTS (& a comment)
- The Latin name means moth-eating red-tail (‘start’ is an archaic word for tail)
- AMRE are among the most common New World warblers
- Occasionally they are found as far afield as Europe
- They are almost entirely insect-eaters, with occasional berries or seeds for variety
- Males are late developers, tending to skew the sex ratio: too many of them
- They are inclined to monogamy, but only to an extent. Two-or-more-timing goes on
- The most aggressive males get the pick of the habitats
- This all begins to sound like human behaviour (not strictly a fact, so it doesn’t count)
- Their fanned tails are for display, and maybe to surprise insects into breaking cover
- Redstarts suffer badly from predators, especially in the breeding season
- They are popular with coffee farmers for keeping insect numbers down
WHAT DO I LISTEN OUT FOR?
Jeff Dyck / Xeno Canto
Credits: Craig Nash (1); Gerlinde Taurer (2, 3, 4); Tom Sheley (5); Audubon Soc (6); Becky Marvil (7); ‘Scott’ wiki (8); Pinterest (9); Xeno-Canto / Jeff Dyck audio file; Birdorable (cute cartoon)
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