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(Common) Redstart

Male Redstart
Male: Grey upperparts, black face, orange breast and belly and red tail.
Female Redstart
Female: Brown upperparts, buff underparts and red tail.

Redstarts are a similar size to a Robin but have a longer tail, which is constantly quivering up and down. The tail and rump are bright orange-red, though the central feathers of the tail are brown. They have a black bill and black legs.

In summer, the male is a handsome bird with blue-grey upperparts, striking black face and throat and a white forehead and eyebrow. The breast and flanks are orange.

Females have grey-brown upperparts, orange-buff underparts, whitish belly and a pale eye ring.

In the winter, the male and female are both browner and have less black.

The juvenile Redstarts are mottled brown and can be confused with juvenile Robins, Black Redstarts and Nightingales.


Scientific Name Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Length 13-14.5 cm (5¼-5¾")
Wing Span 21-24 cm (8½-9¾")
Weight 12-20 g (½-¾ oz)
Breeding Pairs 90000
Present Summer
Status Amber

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The squeaky warbling song of the Redstart will often reveal this shy bird.

Its call is a repetitive, softly whistled "hweet", which it occasionally punctuates with a chat-like "tick".


© Jean Roché,

© Jean Roché,


Redstarts feed on insects and their larvae but also berries in the autumn.


The Redstart will breed almost anywhere: woodland, parks, orchards, heath, gardens, stone walls and quarries.  The nest is usually in a hole, either in a tree, wall or rocks, and is cup-shaped and made from dead grass, moss, wool, hair and feathers. The female builds the nest.

Redstarts will nest in open-fronted nest boxes.

The smooth, glossy light blue eggs are approximately 19 mm by 14 mm in size. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
May 2 6-7 11-14 14-17


Redstarts are summer visitors to Britain, especially the uplands of the west and north, arriving in April and leaving in early September.


The Redstart suffered during the droughts on the 1960s and 1970s in its African wintering grounds, but then changes in woodland management and a reduction in mature woodlands in its breeding areas have reduced the population further.