The Redstart is similar to the European Robin in many of its habits and actions. It has the same general carriage, and chat-like behaviour, and is the same length at 13-14.5 cm long but slightly slimmer and less heavy, weighing 11-23 g. Summer males have a slate-grey head and upperparts. The rump and tail, like the flanks, underwing coverts and axillaries are orange-chestnut. The forehead is white. The sides of the face and throat are black. The wings and the two central tail feathers are brown, the other tail feathers bright orange-red. The bill and legs are black. The female is browner, with paler underparts. It lacks the black and slate, and the throat is whitish.
Habitat and Distribution
Redstarts prefer open mature birch and oak woodland with few shrubs. They prefer to nest on the edge of woodland clearings. In Britain it occurs primarily in upland areas less affected by agricultural intensification, but further east in Europe also commonly in lowland areas, including parks and old gardens in urban areas. It is a summer visitor to most of Europe and western Asia and also in northwest Africa in Morocco. It winters in central Africa and Arabia, south of the Sahara Desert but north of the Equator, from Senegal east to Yemen.
It often feeds like a flycatcher, making aerial sallies after passing insects, and most of its food consists of winged insects.
The males first arrive in early to mid April, often a few days in advance of the females. Five or six light blue eggs are laid during May, with a second brood in mid summer in the south of the breeding range. It departs for Africa between mid-August and early October.
Calls and Songs
The call is chat-like and the alarm a plaintive single note, wheet, like that of many other chats. The male?s song is similar to that of the Robin, but never more than a prelude, since it has an unfinished, feeble ending.