How to Identify an American Redstart

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

Redstart ID Tips

american redstartCourtesy William Canosa
A male American redstart is boldly colored.

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 Female

American redstart femaleCourtesy Linda Petersen
Females lack the orange colors of males.

Females are mostly gray and yellow or yellowish orange. Linda Petersen of Terril, Iowa, shared this photo (above) of a female redstart during fall migration.

Learn how to identify yellow-rumped warblers and palm warblers.

Juvenile American Redstart

juvenile american redstartCourtesy Lance Walker
Young male American redstart perched near water

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
These warblers likely won’t visit bird feeders but you might see them at your birdbath.

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 more spring warblers you should know.

American Redstart Song

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Look for these small black and orange birds during spring migration.

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 has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.