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Black Redstart

Black Redstart Male Black Redstart Male
Mostly grey-black with white patch on wings and orange-red rump and tail.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Phoenicurus ochruros
Length: 14.5 cm  (5¾")
Wing Span: 23-26 cm  (9-10")
Weight: 14-20 g  (½-¾ oz) Female Black Redstart Female
Like the male but brown-grey instead of black, no white wing patch, and duller.
Breeding Pairs: 100
Present: All Year
Status: Amber

Description

Black Redstarts can be found all year round; some are summer visitors, like Redstarts, some are passage migrants in the spring and autumn, and others are resident. Most Black Redstarts are in the southern half of England, preferring "rocky" habitats offered in towns, docklands and industrial areas.

The Black Redstart is a slim, upright bird, but also quite shy.

In the summer, the male bird's plumage is quite striking: grey-black upperparts, sooty black breast and face, a bold white wing patch, and a rusty-red rump and tail. The female is duller, brown-grey with rust-red rump and tail. In the winter the male looks like the female.

Juveniles are similar to the female.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Alarm Call
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

The song is a hurried warble, followed by a scrunching sound like a bag of marbles, and finishing with a burst of ringing notes.

Feeding

Black Redstarts feed mainly on insects and their larvae, but also earthworms, and small molluscs. They will also feed on fruit and berries, particularly in the autumn.

Nesting

Very few breed in Britain, mainly in south-east England, East Anglia and the West Midlands.

The nest is a cup of grass and moss, lined with wool, feathers, and hair, and usually on a building's ledge or a hole in a wall. The female builds the nest.

The female alone incubates the eggs, which are white, smooth and glossy, and about 19 mm by 14 mm. The newly-hatched young are fed by both adults.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April 2 4-6 13-17 12-19

Movements

Some of our breeding birds are resident, but many migrate to the Mediterranean for the winter. Many of the birds seen around our coast in the winter are immigrants from northern Europe.

Conservation

The Black Redstart is a Schedule 1 species, which means that it has special protection at all times.

My Garden

Not seen in our neighbourhood. 

Black Redstarts used to be seen in Sheffield, but redevelopment on the derelict steel industry heartland has practically eliminated it.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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