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A photo of a Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), male
Black Redstart, Male

Black Redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

The Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) is a small, charismatic passerine bird, exhibiting a blend of dark and vibrant plumage. Males are distinguished by their dark grey to black upperparts and breast, with a striking orange-red rump and tail. Females and juveniles are more subdued in color, with grey to grey-brown feathers and the same vivid tail coloration that is the hallmark of the species.

Identification Tips

Adult males are easily identified by their dark upperparts and black breast, contrasting with the orange-red lower rump and tail. The belly and undertail may vary from blackish-grey to orange-red, depending on the subspecies. Females and juveniles are less conspicuous, with overall greyer tones and a distinctive orange-red rump and tail. The presence of pale fringes on the secondaries forms a whitish wing panel in some subspecies.

Habitat

The Black Redstart has adapted remarkably to urban environments, often found nesting in crevices or holes within buildings. Originally a dweller of stony mountainous regions, it now thrives in industrial areas with similar structural features.

Distribution

This species is widely distributed across south and central Europe, Asia, and north-west Africa. It is a resident in milder regions, while populations in the northeast migrate to warmer areas during winter.

Behaviour

The Black Redstart is known for its robin-like movements, including quick ducks of the head and body, and frequent tail flicking. Males possess a rattling song and a tick call, adding to their distinctive presence.

Song & Calls

The Black Redstart's vocal repertoire includes a variety of calls, which differ among subspecies. The male's song is a rattling melody, while its call is a sharp 'tick', often heard during its active foraging.

Breeding

Typically monogamous, the Black Redstart begins breeding in mid-April. Nests are built by females in sheltered nooks, lined with soft materials. Clutches consist of 4 to 6 eggs, incubated primarily by the female. Both parents tend to the fledglings, which leave the nest after 12 to 19 days.

Similar Species

The Common Redstart shares some similarities but can be distinguished by its different behavior, ecological requirements, and less dark plumage.

Diet and Feeding

The Black Redstart's diet includes insects, which it often catches mid-flight. It is also known to forage in coastal areas for tiny crustaceans and flies.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Black Redstart as Least Concern, indicating a stable population across its extensive range.

Black Redstart Sounds




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