Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)


French: Paruline flamboyante German: Rotschwanz-Waldsänger Spanish: Candelita norteña

Motacilla Ruticilla


, 1758,

Virginia, USA


Formerly considered to be the sole member of Setophaga and thought to be probably close to Mniotilta, but genetic data instead reveal that present species is embedded within the former “Dendroica” assemblage#R. Has hybridized with S. americana and probably also with Leiothlypis ruficapilla. W breeding birds described as race tricolor, but generally considered inseparable from those elsewhere in species’ range. Monotypic.


C & S Canada (NW British Columbia, extreme S Yukon and SW Northwest Territories E to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) S through much of C & E USA (but excluding most of SW & SE). Migrates to Central America (S from NW & C Mexico), Caribbean and NW South America (excluding Amazon Basin); small numbers winter on coast of SE USA (S Florida), and also rarely in SW USA (S California).

Descriptive notes

11–13 cm; 6·5–12 g. Highly distinctive parulid; elongated rictal bristles and broad-based bill are adaptations for flycatching behaviour. Male is mostly... read more


Two song types. Type 1 song more commonly given, a short but variable series of high-pitched buzzy... read more


Breeds in open deciduous and mixed woodlands, forest clearings and tall scrub. Adult males tend to... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds almost entirely on insects; occasionally takes seeds and berries in late summer, on migration, and in winter. Forages at all levels,... read more


Season late May to Jul. Poly-territorial polygyny recorded, perhaps a result of locally low proportion of males. Nest a neat cup of grass,... read more


Medium-distance to long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds from Jul, mainly in Aug and Sept... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common throughout range. Has declined since middle of 20th century, mainly as a result of loss of its preferred forest... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2020). American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).