Setophaga ruticilla - (Linnaeus, 1758)
American Redstart
Other English Common Names: American redstart
Other Common Names: Mariquita-de-Rabo-Vermelho
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Setophaga ruticilla (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 178979)
French Common Names: paruline flamboyante
Spanish Common Names: Chipe Flameante
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101347
Element Code: ABPBX06010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 7691

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Parulidae Setophaga
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Setophaga ruticilla
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 03Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large breeding range in southern Canada and the eastern and northern U.S.; numerous occurrences; common in many areas; population relatively stable.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5M (22Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4B), Alaska (S3B), Arizona (S1), Arkansas (S3S4B,S5N), California (SNRB), Colorado (S1B), Connecticut (S5B), Delaware (S1B), District of Columbia (S1B,S4N), Florida (S2), Georgia (S5), Idaho (S2B), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4B), Iowa (S4B,S4N), Kansas (S2B), Kentucky (S4S5B), Louisiana (S3B), Maine (S5), Maryland (S4B), Massachusetts (S5B), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S5B), Missouri (S4), Montana (S5B), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (S4), New Hampshire (S5B), New Jersey (S4B), New Mexico (S4N), New York (S5B), North Carolina (S5B), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S3B), Oregon (SU), Pennsylvania (S5B), Rhode Island (S5B), South Carolina (SNRB), South Dakota (S4B), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S2B), Utah (SHB), Vermont (S5B), Virginia (S5), Washington (S4B), West Virginia (S5B), Wisconsin (S5B), Wyoming (S4B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5B), British Columbia (S5B), Labrador (S3B,SUM), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S5B,S5M), Newfoundland Island (S5B,S5M), Northwest Territories (S5B), Nova Scotia (S4S5B), Ontario (S5B), Prince Edward Island (S4S5B), Quebec (S5B), Saskatchewan (S5B), Yukon Territory (S4B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: southern Alaska and southern Yukon across Canada to southern Labrador and Newfoundland, south to eastern Oregon, northwestern California, Idaho, northern Utah, east-central Arizona, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, northern Gulf Coast, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia. Absent from most of the Great Plains (AOU 1983). NON-BREEDING: extremely widespread, in Mexico along both coasts, on the Pacific from southern Baja California and Sinaloa south and on the Atlantic from southern Texas (rarely) and more typically from Veracruz and Yucatan peninsula south; less common in highlands. Common throughout the West Indies (Pashley 1988, Pashley 1988, Pashley and Hamilton 1990) and Central America. In South America, common in Colombia and Venezuela east into Guyana and Suriname, south through Ecuador, rarely into Peru and northwestern Brazil; Trinidad and Tobago (Sibley and Monroe 1990).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many occurrences.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Common in many areas. Breeding Bird Survey data indicate relatively high abundance in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Maine.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Primary threats are degradation and fragmentation of suitable habitat and associated increased cowbird parasitism and nest predation. Whitcomb et al. (1981) considered the species to be susceptible to fragmentation, and forest management practices that open the canopy decrease populations (Crawford et al. 1981). Noon et al. (1979) found population decreases in a variety of disturbed and successional habitats. In Arizona (the edge of the range), populations are threatened by the development of streams for recreational pursuits, and suitable habitat is susceptible to scouring by floods; this species also may be intolerant of continuous disturbance by birdwatchers and is potentially impacted by grazing (Schwartz, pers. comm.). Herbicide reversion of suitable habitat to spruce-fir forest is considered a threat in Maine (Tudor, pers. comm.). The biggest threat in Alabama (Bailey, pers. comm.) and Mississippi (Mann, pers. comm.) is the conversion of suitable habitat to pine monocultures. Tropical deforestation may be a significant threat; regional declines in this species cannot necessarily be explained by loss of habitat in temperate North America alone. Where forests are fragmented, cowbirds can have a heavy impact (Bent 1953, Klein and Rosenberg 1986, D. Backland, C. Heckscher, and V. Kleen, pers. comms.), but where forests are more extensive, cowbird parasitism is rare (e.g., Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest; Sherry and Holmes 1992). Rates of nest predation from both mammalian and avian predators also increase in fragmented landscapes; blue jays, squirrels, and many other nest predators are therefore important potential threats. In an unfragmented forest in New Hampshire, breeding abundance decline was associated with poor recruitment due primarily to nest depredation and also weather-related starvation (Sherry and Holmes 1992). Brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) parasitism at Hubbard Brook is rare because of the distance of the forest interior from nonforested habitats preferred by cowbirds. By contrast, Bent (1953) considered the cowbird to be the greatest menace. At Ithaca, New York, the redstart was the most common host of the cowbird, with over 67% of nests being parasitized. Rarely do redstarts desert a nest because of the presence of cowbird eggs. Occasionally a new nest floor is built over the cowbird eggs. In the absence of cowbirds, Sherry and Holmes (1992) found that a high percentages of nests were lost to predators (56-100%), although which mammals and/or birds were responsible was unclear; blue jays (CYANOCITTA CRISTATA) and red squirrels (TAMIASCIURUS HUDSONICUS) are the most important predators, but there are about 18 species of opportunistic nest predators at Hubbard Brook (Sherry, unpubl. data). Bent (1953) stated that the redstart's habit of nesting in rather tall, slender trees, usually at a considerable distance from the ground, frees this species from most of the enemies to which ground-nesting birds are subject. This is not so at Hubbard Brook, however: for nests less than 10 m high, sheet metal baffles placed below active nests significantly reduced the probability of nest loss; this result was statistically significant even within summers (Sherry, pers. comm.).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a nonsignificant 13% decline in North America from 1966 to 1993 and a nonsignificant 7% decline from 1984 to 1993 (Price et al. 1995). Where the species is most often detected on BBS routes (Adirondack Mountains Physiographic Area) there are signs of decline. Seemingly has become less common in winter habitat in Puerto Rico (Faaborg and Arendt 1989). Sauer and Droege (1992) analyzed the total BBS data set and found declines over the long-term (1966-1988; percent change per year = - 0.30, nonsignificant) and the short-term (1978-1988; percent change per year = -1.54, significant). Similar results were obtained when BBS data were analyzed for the Eastern Region only, but nonsignificant increases were found for both the Central and Western regions, both over the long- and the short-term. Population trends in New England were studied by Witham and Hunter (1992). For the periods 1966-1988 and 1983-1988, populations declined at northern coastal New England (nonsignificantly in 1966-1988, but significantly so in 1983-1988); BBS data for the period 1966-1987 showed a significant increase in the population in central New England, but a nonsignificant decrease in northern New England. Population trends in Ontario were analyzed by Hussell et al. (1992); a significant decline (6.7% per year) in 1961-1970 contributed to a significant net decline for the last three decades (1961-1988; 2.2% per year). For the period 1969-1986, Holmes and Sherry (1988) compared local trends (Hubbard Brook) with regional trends (BBS data for New Hampshire): whereas redstarts declined significantly in New Hampshire (-4.6% annual change), no change was detected in the Hubbard Brook population (+0.013% annual change; nonsignificant).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: southern Alaska and southern Yukon across Canada to southern Labrador and Newfoundland, south to eastern Oregon, northwestern California, Idaho, northern Utah, east-central Arizona, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, northern Gulf Coast, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia. Absent from most of the Great Plains (AOU 1983). NON-BREEDING: extremely widespread, in Mexico along both coasts, on the Pacific from southern Baja California and Sinaloa south and on the Atlantic from southern Texas (rarely) and more typically from Veracruz and Yucatan peninsula south; less common in highlands. Common throughout the West Indies (Pashley 1988, Pashley 1988, Pashley and Hamilton 1990) and Central America. In South America, common in Colombia and Venezuela east into Guyana and Suriname, south through Ecuador, rarely into Peru and northwestern Brazil; Trinidad and Tobago (Sibley and Monroe 1990).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe 2008


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Apache (04001), Yavapai (04025)*
DE Kent (10001), New Castle (10003), Sussex (10005)
FL Palm Beach (12099), St. Lucie (12111)
ID Ada (16001), Benewah (16009), Blaine (16013), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017), Bonneville (16019), Boundary (16021), Butte (16023), Cassia (16031), Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Fremont (16043), Idaho (16049), Jefferson (16051), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057), Minidoka (16067), Nez Perce (16069), Shoshone (16079), Valley (16085), Washington (16087)
LA Natchitoches (22069), West Feliciana (22125)
UT Davis (49011)*, Duchesne (49013)*, Emery (49015)*, Grand (49019)*, Morgan (49029)*, Salt Lake (49035)*, Summit (49043)*, Tooele (49045)*, Utah (49049)*, Wasatch (49051)*, Weber (49057)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Broadkill-Smyrna (02040207)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+
03 Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+
08 Bayou Sara-Thompson (08070201)+
11 Lower Red-Lake Iatt (11140207)+
14 Duchesne (14060003)+*, Lower Green (14060008)+*
15 Little Colorado headwaters (15020001)+, Upper Verde (15060202)+*
16 Upper Weber (16020101)+*, Lower Weber (16020102)+*, Utah Lake (16020201)+*, Spanish Fork (16020202)+*, Provo (16020203)+*, Jordan (16020204)+*, Rush-Tooele Valleys (16020304)+*, Great Salt Lake (16020310)+*
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Moyie (17010105)+, Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Priest (17010215)+, Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, St. Joe (17010304)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Palisades (17040104)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Lower Henrys (17040203)+, Willow (17040205)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Raft (17040210)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Big Lost (17040218)+, Big Wood (17040219)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, South Fork Payette (17050120)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Weiser (17050124)+, Hells Canyon (17060101)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Palouse (17060108)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Lochsa (17060303)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Upper North Fork Clearwater (17060307)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A 13-cm bird (warbler).
General Description: Length is 13 cm. Male is glossy black with bright orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail; belly and undertail coverts are white. Female is gray-olive above, white below with yellow patches. Immature resembles female. By first fall, young male's patches show some salmon; by first spring, breast has some black spotting; full adult male plumage is acquired by second late summer. Often fans tail and spreads wings when perched, making the colorful patches conspicuous.

VOCALIZATIONS: Variable song, a series of high, thin notes usually followed by a wheezy, downslurred note (NGS 1987).

NEST: a firm, compactly woven cup of plant down, bark fibers, small rootlets, grass stems; lined with fine grasses, weed stems, hair, sometimes feathers; decorated on outside with lichens, birch bark, bud scales, plant down; bound with spider silk; built entirely by the female, typically requiring 1 week or more (but sometimes less than this). Outside diameter 2.75 in (7 cm), height 3 in (7.6 cm); inside diameter 1.75 in (4.4 cm), depth 1.5 in (3.8 cm).

EGGS: Average size 16.2 x 12.3 mm. Oval to short-oval. Shell smooth, has slight gloss. White, grayish white, creamy white, greenish white; dotted, spotted, blotched with reddish-browns, grays; often concentrated at large end.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Adults are easily distinguished from other species. Nest is similar to that of yellow warbler (DENDROICA PETECHIA) but has neater construction and thinner walls. Also similar is the nest of American goldfinch (CARDUELIS TRISTIS), but this is wider than high, whereas the redstart's is higher than wide (Harrison 1975).
Reproduction Comments: In the mid-Atlantic region, nesting occurs from late April to early July, with a peak from mid-May to mid-June (Bushman and Therres 1988). Clutch size is 1-5; clutch size declines over the summer, however, from 4 (occasionally 5) eggs in late May/early June to 3 (occasionally 1 or 2) eggs in July. Incubation, by female, lasts 11-13 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 8-9 days. Typically, there is only one brood, though females may renest up to three times when nests are lost (Sherry and Holmes 1994). Fledging success can be highly variable from year to year; for example, Sherry and Holmes (1992) reported a range of 0.2 to 0.7 at Hubbard Brook; causes of nest failures also varied annually, as did abundance and age structure of the population. The number of yearlings that return to breed appears dependent upon nest success the previous year; poor nesting success in the mid-1980s appears to have caused a decline in the total population during that period (Sherry and Holmes 1992).
Ecology Comments: BREEDING POPULATION DENSITY: Published information on bird densities from breeding bird censuses in the southeastern U.S. between 1947 and 1979 were summarized by Hamel et al. (1982). Mean (standard error) density was listed as 8.7 (2.8) pairs per 40 ha with a density range of 2.7-87 pairs per 40 ha. In northern New Hampshire (White Mountains), Sabo (1980) recorded average densities of 40 pairs per sq km in subalpine habitats, and 9 pairs per sq km in virgin spruce groves. Sherry and Holmes (1988) reported a range of 2.5-6.75 male territories on 10-ha sites at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire. When population trends for the month of June (mid-breeding period) at Hubbard Brook were analyzed for the period 1969-1986, Holmes and Sherry (1988) found the mean (standard deviation) number of adult to be 28.67 (8.84) birds per 10 ha. In Maryland, Whitcomb et al. (1981) reported territorial densities to be 71 males per sq km.

Two studies of bottomland hardwood forests provide data from similar censusing techniques: Mitchell and Lancia (1990) found densities to be the highest in edge habitat (an average 0.14 birds per 25 m radius 10-min point count) in South Carolina. On the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina, R. Sallabanks (unpubl. data) found densities to be highest in the interior of wide levee forest patches (an average 0.57 birds per unlimited radius 10-min point count). Between 1986 and 1988, Sherry and Holmes (1989) found the number of yearling males to be low (0-1 males per 5 ha) compared with older males (6-8 males per 5 ha).

WINTERING POPULATIONS: Solitary in winter (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Defends winter territory (Jamaica, Holmes et al. 1989, Marra et al. 1993; Mexico, Rappole and Warner 1980); individuals commonly return to the same territory in successive years. Density in winter in Jamaica was 10-51 per 10 ha, comparable to breeding densities reported for eastern U.S., but greater than densities reported for other sites in the Caribbean and Mexico (0-17 per 10 ha) (Holmes et al. 1989; see also Bennett 1980). Winter densities were listed by Hamel et al. (1982) as a mean (standard error) of 2.5 (1.5) pairs per 40 ha with a density range of 1-4 pairs per 40 ha.

TERRITORY SIZE: Little information exists on territory size. Freemark and Merriam (1986) listed territory size as less than 2 ha near Ottawa, Canada. Based upon 14 birds, Sabo (1980) found territory size to be 0.6 ha.

COMPETITION: Several studies have addressed habitat selection and territory occupancy in response to both intra- and inter-specific competition (Ficken and Ficken 1967, Sherry 1979, Sherry and Holmes 1988, 1989, Secunda and Sherry 1991). In New Hampshire, Sherry and Holmes (1988) found the density of redstart territories to be slightly higher when a dominant competitor, the least flycatcher (EMPIDONAX MINIMUS), was absent (approximately 4.4 territories per 4 ha) than when present (approximately 4.0 territories per 4 ha). Least flycatchers locally excluded after second year redstarts from best patches of habitat within a heterogeneous array of such patches (Sherry and Holmes 1988).

MORTALITY FACTORS: Weather accounted for most nest losses during the building stage and caused starvation of nestlings in some years at Hubbard Brook (Sherry and Holmes 1994). Widespread starvation in 1984 was probably caused by a series of heavy rainstorms during the nestling period that depressed insect abundances, or reduced foraging time or success, or both (Sherry and Holmes 1992).

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Arrives in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in September (sometimes as early as August), departs by April or as late as early May (Raffaele 1983). Begins arriving in Jamaica in late August, with main influx mid- to late September (Holmes et al. 1989). Migration in Costa Rica is from mid-August, rarely late July, through late October and April-early May (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Present in South America mostly September-April (Ridgely and Tudor 1989).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Scrub-shrub wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Various mature and second-growth wooded habitats. Deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous second-growth forests, alder swamps, old growth forests with regenerating trees (e.g., around tree-fall gaps), willow thickets, small groves; low, damp, second-growth deciduous and mixed floodplain forests and river swamps; most abundant in mature deciduous forest stands, but also may occur in young woods less than 15 years old; requires closed canopy and prefers dense midstory and understory and well-developed undergrowth; use of pole-stage stands apparently varies geographically (Cruickshank 1979, Crawford et al. 1981, Harrison 1984, DeGraaf 1985, Bushman and Therres 1988, Sherry and Holmes 1997). Nests usually are placed in an upright fork of a deciduous understory sapling, shrub, or tree, occasionally in a vine tangle or old vireo nest; nest usually is about 1-6 m above ground, sometimes as high as 28 m.

Southeastern U.S.: Primary breeding habitats in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain are bottomland hardwoods and swamps, especially in extensive stands. In the mountains this species occurs in hardwoods along streams, usually where it is open and not heavily wooded. Birds are less frequent in medium-growth hardwood forests away from water. Hamel et al. (1982) described the key habitat requirements for breeding as hardwood forests near water. They provided the following details on habitat use and suitability in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The following five vegetation types used by this species in five physiographic provinces (Mountains, Sandhills, Piedmont, Inner Coastal Plain, and Outer Coastal Plain) are considered in order of suitability: elm-ash-cottonwood is suitable at the sapling-poletimber stage, optimal at the late-successional sawtimber stage; southern mixed mesic hardwoods and oak-gum-cypress are suitable at both the sapling-poletimber stage and sawtimber stage; oak-hickory and cove-hardwoods are marginal habitat at the sapling-poletimber stage and suitable at the sawtimber stage. In all cases, shrubs and midstory are used for all activities (feeding/foraging, nesting, perching, roosting, and singing), whereas the overstory is used for feeding/foraging, perching, roosting, and singing, but not nesting. No specific vegetation sizes were given. Yellow birch is significantly preferred for nesting, and fledging success is significantly higher in yellow birch than beech or sugar maple; this result is especially true for large, old trees. Nest concealment from predators accounts for these patterns (Crew and Sherry, unpubl. data).

Northeastern and north-central U.S.: In New York, breeders use low, damp woods and have been found in mixed woodland with a considerable growth of pine and hemlock; in the Adirondacks, nest sites often occur where spruces predominate. In Ohio, Michigan, and other sections of the Midwest, this species inhabits the maple, elm, ash, and pine-oak association of the larger, more mature swamp forests, although it is sometimes found among similar trees and brush in the larger upland woods. In the far Northwest, it shows a decided preference for willow trees and alder thickets. In Maine, the bird is found in hardwood or mixed deciduous and coniferous woodlands; these may be low, damp situations but birds are also often found in the second-growth of trees and brush of the dry sandy plains. Alder and willow thickets bordering streams and ponds are used here also (Bent 1953). In New Hampshire, redstarts are especially abundant in second-growth edge and in old-age northern hardwood forests, but they also occur in other moist woodlands, mixed hardwood-conifer woods, and alder and willow thickets. Here, this species breeds from near sea level to above 3000 ft (910 m), where the highest elevation hardwoods grade into conifers in the White Mountains (Sherry and Holmes 1994).

Quantitative habitat measures have been documented in a few studies. Sabo (1980) measured habitat selection in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and listed the following parameters: mean elevation - 830 m, canopy height - 10.4 m, canopy coverage - 74%, conifer foliage volume - 38%, conifer foliage cover (0-2 m) - 20%, broad leaf foliage volume (>5 m) - 92%, and dbh of live trees - 11 cm. Collins et al. (1982) quantified habitat in north-central Minnesota: ground cover - 67.7%, shrub cover - 70.7%, canopy cover - 66.3%, canopy height - 14.5 m, conifers - 4.7%, and numbers of species of trees per 0.04 ha circle - 4. In addition, Collins et al. (1982) surveyed vegetation and recorded the numbers of trees in different size classes: 10.7 (7.5-15 cm), 10.7 (15.1-23 cm), 8.2 (23.1-30 cm), 4.6 (30.1-38 cm), 1.1 (38.1-53 cm), 0.3 (53.1-68 cm), and 0.1 (>68.1 cm). Sherry and Holmes (1985, unpubl. data) documented significant preferences for deciduous stands of trees along a deciduous-coniferous gradient.

NON-BREEDING: In winter and migration, habitats include various kinds of forests, woodlands, scrublands, and thickets, including mangroves; uses a wide variety of agricultural habitats (e.g., cacao, citrus, pine plantations, mango, and sun and shade coffee plots) (Robbins et al. 1992). Primary wintering habitats are mainly in broadleaf evergreen woods and thickets, such as hammocks and mangroves (Hamel et al. 1982). In Venezuela, mangroves were a transitory habitat, used primarily in the middle of the wintering period by a low number of females (Lefebvre et al. 1992). In Jamaica, widespread in various habitats and are regularly found in drought-deciduous dry limestone forest, citrus, wet limestone forest (evergreen), gardens, and residential areas (Holmes et al. 1989, Holmes and Sherry 1992); they tend to be most abundant at lower elevations (Sherry, pers. comm.). Redstarts in Jamaica segregated by sex, with males in mangroves and females mainly in contiguous scrub habitat (Parrish and Sherry 1994). In the Dominican Republic, habitats include strand vegetation, mangroves, scrub, disturbed dry forest, riparian, urban, disturbed wet forest, mesic forest, and wet forest (Arendt 1992). In the Yucatan Peninsula, redstarts prefer moist forest, but also inhabit dry forest, wet forest, field and pasture, and acahual; late-successional forest stages are clearly preferred (Lynch 1992); redstarts were the third most common species found in mature semi-evergreen forest (after hooded [WILSONIA CITRINA] and magnolia warblers [DENDROICA MAGNOLIA]); were also found in mid-successional Acahual although less commonly so, and were rarely found in field/pasture habitat (Lynch 1989).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mostly forest tree insects, also spiders and some fruits and seeds (Terres 1980). In Jamaica in winter, takes almost all insect prey from air, usually within a few centimeters of vegetation (Lack 1976). Searches for insects below the canopy on trunks, limbs, twigs, and leaves, captures prey during aerial sallies (Bushman and Therres 1988, Stiles and Skutch 1989). In winter in Mexico, preferred foliage density is open; often hawks prey, also gleans and hovers (Rappole and Warner 1980). In mangroves in Venezuela, feeds on insects captured in foliage and in the air (Lefebvre et al. 1992). See Keast et al. (1995, Auk 112:310-325) for information on adaptations for aerial feeding.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Weight: 9 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Widely distributed, both throughout its breeding range in North America and in its wintering range in the West Indies, Central America, and northern South America. Essential breeding habitat is hardwood forest, usually near water, preferably low, damp, deciduous and mixed floodplain forests and river swamps. The major threat is forest fragmentation and general loss of habitat as many states convert mixed deciduous forests to pine monocultures. Where habitat is fragmented, cowbird parasitism can be a serious problem. Population trends are negative, with most states experiencing net losses over the past three decades; studies at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire suggest that populations will remain relatively stable if habitat remains intact. Stewardship needs include determination of the minimum area requirements for viable breeding populations and better understanding of the role of habitat loss and cowbird parasitism. Nest predation can be very high (even in forest), and may in fact better explain regional declines than does cowbird parasitism (in some regions); hence nest predation should be addressed.
Restoration Potential: Currently not in need of restoration in any state. Should the species decline, restoration and recovery seems highly plausible if the correct habitat is provided. Where the species is of most concern (e.g., Arizona), it is on the periphery of its range and has never been a common breeder.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: When considering a preserve for this species, several factors are necessary to consider: the overstory canopy should be closed, there should be a dense midstory and understory, and well-developed undergrowth; minimum area requirements are poorly understood, although some evidence suggests forests should be extensive. Favorable habitat conditions are created by selective cutting and thinning competing understory trees (Crawford et al. 1981). Although unlikely, edges may be a positive variable for this species (DeGraaf 1985, Chasko and Gates 1982), although this will also increase the likelihood of cowbird parasitism and nest predation.

Freemark and Merriam (1986) regarded this as a forest interior species. Reported as rare or absent in forest patches smaller than about 32 ha in Wisconsin (Bond 1957), 70 ha in Maryland, and 118 ha in Illinois (Blake and Karr 1984). Associated with large (>15 ha) aspen groves in Saskatchewan (Johns 1993). Was regarded as susceptible to forest fragmentation by Whitcomb et al. (1981), who did not find this species in any forest less than 173 acres (70 ha). In contrast, DeGraaf (1985) and Collins et al. (1982) reported that edges are a positive habitat variable. Chasko and Gates (1982) located nests an average 114 ft (35 m) from transmission-line corridors (Bushman and Therres 1988).

Management Requirements: Bushman and Therres (1988) offered the only management guidelines for this species. Forest canopies should be left closed, and disturbed and successional habitats may be detrimental. Selective cutting and thinning of competing understory trees is recommended to promote suitable habitat.
Monitoring Requirements: Annual point count censuses probably are the best monitoring method (e.g., Sherry and Holmes 1991, 1992). Studies that monitor breeding productivity provide critical information on factors affecting population recruitment and dynamics; it is imperative that we determine why breeding productivity may be low, as well as why numbers of birds may be low. Mapping Avian Productivity and Survival stations are also suggested (West, pers. comm.). Broadcast vocalizations can be used to facilitate surveys of wintering populations (Sliwa and Sherry 1992, which see for details on monitoring wintering redstarts).
Management Research Needs: Minimum area requirements seem to be the least understood aspect of management. Better estimates of minimum viable population size and impacts of both cowbird parasitism and habitat fragmentation also need to be better addressed. Also, studies of the relative role of tropical deforestation compared with temperate habitat fragmentation are needed--where are redstarts most strongly affected and what is the value of tropical forest to this species?
Additional topics: Other important research has concerned song (Schackell et al. 1988), delayed plumage maturation in males (Procter-Gray and Holmes 1981, Procter-Gray 1991), foraging (Morse 1973, Robinson and Holmes 1984), and the effects of male plumage and song on reproductive success (Lemon et al. 1992).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Sep1995
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Dirrigl, F. J., Jr., G. Hammerson, and R. Sallabanks
Management Information Edition Date: 14Sep1993
Management Information Edition Author: SALLABANKS, R.; REVISIONS BY D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: I thank Tom Sherry and Harry LeGrand, Jr., for comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Tom Sherry also provided preprints and reprints. Thanks also go to all Heritage biologists who responded to the ESA questionnaire: Alabama - Mark Bailey; Alaska - Ed West; Arizona - Cindy Osborne; Arizona - Sabra Schwartz; British Columbia - Syd Cannings; Connecticut - Dawn McKay; Delaware - Christopher Heckcher; Florida - Steve Jones; Georgia - Jon Ambrose; Iowa - Daryl Howell; Idaho - George Stephens; Illinois - Vernon Kleen; Indiana - John Castrale and Michelle Martin; Kansas - Bill Busby; Kentucky - Brainard Palmer- Ball; Louisiana - Steve Schively; Massachusetts - Brad Blodget; Maryland - Lynn Davidson; Maine - John Albright and Lindsay Tudor; Michigan - Mary Rabe; Minnesota - Mary Miller; Missouri - Brad Jacobs; Mississippi - Tom Mann; Montana - Cory Craig and Mary Rabe; North Carolina - Harry LeGrand, Jr.; North Dakota - Randy Kreil; Nebraska - Mary Clausen; New Hampshire - Andy Cutko and Sheila Frye; New Jersey - Rick Dutko; New York - Kathy Schneider; Ohio - Daniel Rice; Pennsylvania - Barb Barton; Quebec - Guy Jolicoeur; Rhode Island - Rick Enser; South Carolina - John Cely; South Dakota - Doug Backland; Tennessee - Paul Hamel and Andrea Shea; Utah - Robin Toone; Virginia - Sarah Mabey; Vermont - Chris Fichtel; Wyoming - Chris Garber; and West Virginia - Barbara Sargent. Judith Soule of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory provided valuable advice on writing the ESA, Bruce Peterjohn of the USFWS, Office of Migratory Bird Management, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center sent BBS data, and Melissa Morrison of The Nature Conservancy's Eastern Regional Office sent ELLINK reports.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Apr1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): SALLABANKS, R., AND G. HAMMERSON

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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