The Black Redstart is 13-14.5 cm long and 12-20 g in weight. The adult male is overall dark grey to black on the upperparts and with a black breast; the lower rump and tail are orange-red, with the two central tail feathers dark red-brown. The belly and undertail are either blackish-grey (western subspecies) or orange-red (eastern subspecies). The wings are blackish-grey with pale fringes on the secondaries forming a whitish panel (western subspecies) or all blackish (eastern subspecies). The female is grey (western subspecies) to grey-brown (eastern subspecies) overall except for the orange-red lower rump and tail, greyer than the Common Redstart.

Habitat and Distribution

It is a widespread breeder in south and central Europe and Asia and northwest Africa, from Great Britain and Ireland south to Morocco, east to central China. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but northeastern birds migrate to winter in southern and western Europe and Asia, and north Africa. In Britain it is common on the east and south coasts, and in winter on the coasts of Wales and western and southern England. They also inhabit stony ground in mountains, as well as urban habitats.


It will catch passing insects in flight, and migrants often hunt in coastal tide-wrack for flies or tiny crustaceans.


It nests in crevices or holes in buildings.

Calls and Songs

The male has a rattling song and a tick call.