How to Identify American Redstarts

The American redstart is a stunning, distinctive warbler. Learn how to identify these colorful birds, and see what the female and juveniles look like.

american redstartCourtesy William Canosa
Male American redstart

Bright yellow plumage is common among warblers. But the vibrant American redstart is distinctive. Males are mostly black with rich, reddish orange patches on the sides, wings and tails.

Redstarts are among the most active warblers as they flit through trees. They fan out their brightly colored tails, a notable behavior that makes them easy to identify. If you’re birding on the edges of eastern forests, be sure to look for redstarts.

Like most warblers, redstarts usually aren’t interested in bird feeders. But they readily come to drink water from a birdbath. Look for pine warblers at suet feeders.

American redstart femaleCourtesy Linda Petersen
Female American redstart

American Redstart Female

Females are mostly gray and yellow or yellowish orange. Linda Petersen of Terril, Iowa, shared this photo of a female redstart during fall migration. Learn how to identify yellow-rumped warblers and palm warblers.

juvenile american redstartCourtesy Lance Walker
Young male American redstart

Juvenile American Redstart

For this species of warbler, the resemblance between the young birds and the adult females continues beyond the first fall. One-year-old males are subtly colored, like females. During the second summer, a few black feathers show up on the males to set them apart from females, but it isn’t until later in the season that the male redstarts molt into full black-and-orange plumage. Learn all about black-throated blue (and green!) warblers.

american redstartCourtesy Jon Toth
A male American redstart drinks from a birdbath

American Redstart Range

One of the most common migrant warblers, the redstart spends the winter in the tropics, from Florida to South America. It breeds in summer in the eastern and northern U.S. and all across southern Canada. Learn about 10 spring warblers you should know.

American Redstart Song

This warbler’s variable song often ends in a sharp shew.

Want to learn more about warblers? Meet the magnolia warbler and black-and-white warblers.

Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys growing vegetables in containers and raised beds and watching for birds in her backyard.