Common redstart

The common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), or often simply redstart, is a small passerine bird in the redstart genus Phoenicurus. Like its relatives, it was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family, (Turdidae), but is now known to be an Old World flycatcher (family Muscicapidae).

Song recorded in Finland
Song recorded in England

Taxonomy and systematics

The first formal description of the common redstart was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Motacilla phoenicurus.[2] The genus Phoenicurus was introduced by the English naturalist Thomas Forster in 1817.[3] The genus and species name phoenicurus is from Ancient Greek phoinix, "red", and -ouros -"tailed".[4]

Two subspecies are accepted. The nominate P. p. phoenicurus is found all over Europe and reaches into Siberia. To the southeast, subspecies P. p. samamisicus is found from the Crimean Peninsula through Turkey, the Middle East, and into Central Asia. It is slightly smaller than P. p. phoenicurus and in adult males has white outer webs in the remiges to some extent, forming a pale to whitish wing-patch similar to the one seen in black redstart and Daurian redstart. This patch is also present but less conspicuous in immature males, and sometimes in adult females. The subspecies intergrade widely in Turkey and the southern Balkans.[5][6]

The closest genetic relative of the common redstart may be the Moussier's redstart, though incomplete sampling of the genus gives some uncertainty to this.[7] Its ancestors were apparently the first redstarts to spread to Europe; they seem to have diverged from the black redstart group about 3 mya, during the Piacenzian.[8] Genetically, common and black redstarts are still fairly compatible and can produce hybrids that appear to be healthy and fertile, but they are separated by different behaviour and ecological requirements so hybrids are very rare in nature.[9]


The common redstart shows some affinity 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 not quite as heavy, weighing 11–23 g. The orange-red tail, from which it and other redstarts get their names ("start" is an old word for "tail"), is frequently quivered. Among common European birds, only the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochrurus) has a similarly coloured tail.[5][6]

Phoenicurus phoenicurus female

The male in summer has a slate-grey head and upperparts, except the rump and tail, which, 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 orange on the flanks shades to almost white on the belly. The bill and legs are black. In autumn, pale feather fringes on the body feathering obscures the colours of the male, giving it a washed-out appearance. The female is browner, with paler underparts; it lacks the black and slate, and the throat is whitish.

Distribution and habitat

Distribution ph phoenicurus
Breeding (orange) and wintering (blue) distribution

Common redstarts prefer open mature birch and oak woodland with a high horizontal visibility and low amounts of shrub and understorey especially where the trees are old enough to have holes suitable for its nest. 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. They nest in natural tree holes, so dead trees or those with dead limbs are beneficial to the species; nestboxes are sometimes used. A high cover of moss and lichen is also preferred. They also use mature open conifer woodland, particularly in the north of the breeding range. Management to thin out the trees is thus favoured.[5][6]

In England, where it has declined by 55% in the past 25 years, the Forestry Commission offers grants under a scheme called England's Woodland Improvement Grant (EWIG); as does Natural Englands Environmental Stewardship Scheme. It is a very rare and irregular breeding bird in Ireland, with between one and five pairs breeding in most years, mainly in County Wicklow.[10]

Behaviour and ecology

Phoenicurus phoenicurus eggs
Nest with a clutch of eggs.
Phoenicurus phoenicurus MWNH 1815
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany
Phoenicurus phoenicurus - feeding poster(js)
Common redstart diet

It is a summer visitor throughout most of Europe and western Asia (east to Lake Baikal), 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 is widespread as a breeding bird in Great Britain, particularly in upland broadleaf woodlands and hedgerow trees, but in Ireland it is very local, and may not breed every year.

The males first arrive in early to mid April,[11] 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. It often feeds like a flycatcher, making aerial sallies after passing insects, and most of its food consists of winged insects. The call is chat-like and the alarm a plaintive single note, wheet, like that of many other chats.[5]

The male’s song is similar to that of the Robin, but never more than a prelude, since it has an unfinished, feeble ending.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Phoenicurus phoenicurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Volume 1 (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 187.
  3. ^ Forster, Thomas (1817). A Synoptical Catalogue of British Birds. London: Nichols, Son, and Bentley. p. 53.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. p. 304. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4..
  5. ^ a b c d Hoyo, J. del; et al., eds. (2005). Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 10. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. p. 771. ISBN 84-87334-72-5.
  6. ^ a b c Snow, D. W. & Perrins, C. M. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic (Concise ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
  7. ^ Sangster, G.; Alström, P.; Forsmark, E.; Olsson, U. (2010). "Multi-locus phylogenetic analysis of Old World chats and flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly at family, subfamily and genus level (Aves: Muscicapidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 57: 380–392. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.07.008. PMID 20656044.
  8. ^ Ertan, K. T. (2006). The Evolutionary History of Eurasian Redstarts "Phoenicurus". Acta Zoologica Sinica 52 (Supplement): 310–313. PDF fulltext Archived 2014-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Grosch, Kai (2004). Hybridization Between the Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus and Black Redstart P. ochruros, and the Effect on Habitat Exploitation. J. Avian Biol. 35 (3): 217-223. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03128.x (HTML abstract)
  10. ^ Perry, Kenneth W. "The Annual Report of the Irish Rare Birds Breeding Panel 2012" Irish Birds Vol. 9 p.573
  11. ^ "Redstart". RSPB.

External links

Abbotts Moss Nature Reserve

Abbotts Moss is a 12-hectare (30-acre) nature reserve near Delamere Forest, northwest of Winsford, Cheshire. It is managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust under lease from the Forestry Commission and lies within a larger Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The reserve is south of the A556 road near Sandiway and is divided in two by the Whitegate Way, a former railway line now used as a footpath and bridleway.

Backstone Bank and Baal Hill Woods

Backstone Bank and Baal Hill Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Wear Valley district of County Durham, England. It occupies the steep eastern slopes of the valley of Waskerley Beck, alongside and downstream of Tunstall Reservoir, some 3 km north of Wolsingham and is one of the largest expanses of semi-natural woodland in west Durham.The area once formed part of a much larger expanse, Wolsingham Park, which was owned by the prince bishops of Durham from the late 13th century, and was protected both for its deer and for its timber. The woodland, originally predominantly oak and birch, was managed by coppicing for both timber and charcoal, the latter supplying the smelting kilns of the local lead industry. Historical records show that the site has been woodland since at least the early 16th century, and one large oak, the "Bishop Oak", is thought to be around 400 years old.The woodland cover is very variable, being dependent on the soil and drainage. In wetter areas, alder, Alnus glutinosa, is dominant, over a ground cover that includes soft rush, Juncus effusus, meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria, and tufted hair-grass, Deschampsia cespitosa. In one side valley, there is a small population of small-leaved lime, Tilia cordata, which occurs here close to its northern limit and at an unusually high altitude.On base-rich soils, the woodland typically consists of ash, Fraxinus excelsior, and wych elm, Ulmus glabra, over an understorey of hazel, Corylus avellana, and bird cherry, Prunus padus, and a rich ground flora that includes lady-fern, Athyrium filix-femina, male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, and hard shield-fern, Polystichum aculeatum.On more acid soils, sessile oak, Quercus petraea, and birch, Betula sp., are dominant. The under-storey, of hazel, holly, Ilex aquifolium, rowan, Sorbus aucuparia, and hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, is sparse and the ground-cover is relatively poor.As well as a diverse fauna, the site supports a variety of breeding birds, including woodcock, wood warbler, common redstart and pied flycatcher; common buzzard are also seen in the area. Roe deer are present in sufficient numbers to require measures to protect regenerating saplings.The southern end of the site is owned by the Durham Wildlife Trust and is managed as the Baal Hill Wood nature reserve.

Various suggestions have been made to explain the origin of the name "Baal Hill". One, which is favoured by Durham Wildlife Trust, relates the name to the ancient lead-smelting industry, in which a "baal" (or "bail") is said to have been a local term for a pit in which lead ore was "boiled" to remove impurities. There are references in old manuscripts to "les Bolehill" at Wolsingham and to payments being made to "bolers". Another explanation is that "baal" derives from an old spelling of "bailiff" and that the nearby Baal Hill House, referred to in a manuscript of 1558 as "Baylehilhous", was at one time the residence of the Bishop of Durham's local bailiff. The modern name is a corruption of northern dialect bale, a signal fire or beacon, based on an association with the Baal, the Old Testament deity mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.Backstone Bank is mentioned in 1647 as Barkston Bank, a "hill where bakestones are found". Bakestones were flat stones that were used for baking in an oven.

Black redstart

The black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) is a small passerine bird in the redstart genus Phoenicurus. Like its relatives, it was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now known to be an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae). Other common names are Tithy's redstart, blackstart and black redtail.

Bombus mendax

Bombus mendax is a species of bumblebee. It is native to Europe, where it occurs in Andorra, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.This is an uncommon species. It lives in high mountains in the Alps and the Pyrenees. It occurs in alpine and subalpine climates, often in grassland habitat. It often creates its nests in burrows abandoned by rodents such as the European pine vole (Microtus subterraneus). It feeds at many kinds of flowers, especially those with long corollas.This species may become more rare as climate change causes available high-mountain habitat to shrink.

Common cuckoo

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, Cuculiformes, which includes the roadrunners, the anis and the coucals.

This species is a widespread summer migrant to Europe and Asia, and winters in Africa. It is a brood parasite, which means it lays eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly of dunnocks, meadow pipits, and reed warblers. Although its eggs are larger than those of its hosts, the eggs in each type of host nest resemble the host's eggs. The adult too is a mimic, in its case of the sparrowhawk; since that species is a predator, the mimicry gives the female time to lay her eggs without being seen to do so.

Coombes Valley RSPB reserve

Coombes Valley RSPB reserve (grid reference SK005525) is a nature reserve, run by the RSPB, near the town of Leek in Staffordshire, England. It is best known for its breeding woodland birds, including common redstart, wood warbler and pied flycatcher. It is also home to the nationally scarce argent and sable moth, a priority species in the UK's Biodiversity Action Plan.

Cyprus wheatear

The Cyprus wheatear or Cyprus pied wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) is a small, 14–15 cm long passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It was formerly treated as a subspecies (race) of pied wheatear but Sluys and van den Berg (1982) argued that the form deserved full species status, on the basis of differences in biometrics and especially song, and the lack of sexual plumage dimorphism in cypriaca.

This migratory insectivorous species breeds only in Cyprus, and winters in southern Sudan and Ethiopia. It has been recorded as a vagrant on Heligoland, Germany,This species closely resembles pied wheatear, although it has slightly more black on the tail and back, and on the head. The sexes are similar in appearance, a fact first documented by Christensen (1974). A 2010 study found that Cyprus wheatear differs from pied wheatear in fourteen external morphometric characters.The song is distinctive, and very different from that of pied wheatear, resembling an insect. It consists of a series of high-pitched buzzing bursts.The song-perches utilised by this species are high for a wheatear, typically being 5 to 10 metres above ground. It often breeds in woodland habitats, unlike other wheatears (Oliver 1990 suggested that it occupies the ecological niche used elsewhere in the Western Palearctic by the common redstart). It is the most arboreal species of wheatear in the western palearctic and it uses often aerial sallying and perch-pounce-feeding tactics. Recent work suggest an ecological differentiation between Cyprus wheatear and migrating northern wheatears O. oenanthe and black-eared wheatears O. hispanica melanoleuca. Cyprus wheatear uses more aerial sallying and occupies more forested habitats, but needs a minimum amount of open/bare ground, and a minimum of high bush/tree vegetation (Randler et al. 2009).


Dartmoor is an upland area in southern Devon, England. Protected by National Park status as Dartmoor National Park, it covers 954 km2 (368 sq mi).The granite which forms the uplands dates from the Carboniferous Period of geological history. The landscape consists of moorland capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The highest point is High Willhays, 621 m (2,037 ft) above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology.

Dartmoor is managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority, whose 22 members are drawn from Devon County Council, local district councils and Government.

Parts of Dartmoor have been used as military firing ranges for over 200 years. The public is granted extensive land access rights on Dartmoor (including restricted access to the firing ranges) and it is a popular tourist destination.

Güldenstädt's redstart

The Güldenstädt's redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogastrus) also sometimes called the white-winged redstart, is a species of bird in the genus Phoenicurus, family Muscicapidae. It is found in the high mountains of southwestern and central Asia in the Caucasus, Karakoram, Pamir, Himalaya, Tian Shan, and Altai, in the countries of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

It is one of the largest redstarts, 18 cm long and 21–29 g weight. The adult male is black above except for a white crown, a white patch on the wing, and an orange-red tail; below, the throat and upper breast are black, and the rest of the underparts a rich orange-red. The female and immature male are brown above and orange-buff below, with an orange-red tail.It breeds at high altitudes from 3,600–5,200 m in alpine meadows and rock-fields, moving slightly lower to 1,500–4,800 m in winter where it occurs mainly in subalpine Hippophae scrub; some populations, notably the northernmost in the mountains around Lake Baikal, migrate further, reaching northeastern China. It feeds on fruit and a wide variety of invertebrates.

List of birds of Greece

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Greece. The avifauna of Greece include a total of 453 species according to the Hellenic Rarities Committee of the Hellenic Ornithological Society (Ελληνική Ορνιθολογική Εταιρεία). Of them, four have not been recorded since 1950 and two have been introduced by humans.This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (English and scientific names) are those of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition.The following tags have been used to highlight several categories of occurrence. Species without tags are regularly occurring residents, migrants, or seasonal visitors which have been recorded since 1 January 1950.

(*) Rare in Greece; reports of these 120 species require submission to the Hellenic Rarities Committee for inclusion in the official record.

(B) Species which have not occurred in Greece since 1 January 1950.

(C) Species that do not occur naturally in Greece, although breeding populations have been introduced by humans.

List of birds of Italy

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Italy. The avifauna of Italy included a total of 557 species recorded in the wild by early 2018. Of these species, 166 are accidental, 13 have been introduced by humans, and one has been extirpated.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition.The following tags have been used to highlight some categories of occurrence. The notes of population status, such as "endangered", apply to the worldwide population, not that only in Italy.

(A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Italy

(I) Introduced - a species introduced by humans directly or indirectly to Italy

List of birds of Kyrgyzstan

376 bird species have occurred in the Kyrgyz Republic.

List of birds of San Marino

This is a list of the bird species recorded in San Marino. The avifauna of San Marino include a total of 96 species, none of which are introduced or endemic.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of the Association of European Rarities Committees.

Moussier's redstart

The Moussier's redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) is a small passerine bird in the genus Phoenicurus (redstarts), formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now classified as an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae). It is an endemic resident breeder in the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa. Its habitat is open woodland in rocky areas from sea level up to 3000 m altitude in the mountains.It is the smallest redstart, only 12 cm long and 14–15 g weight. The male has a black head with a broad white stripe running above each eye and down the side of the neck. The upperparts are black other than a white wing patch, and the rich chestnut tail, from which it and other redstarts get their names (start is an old word for tail). The underparts are a rich orange-red. The female has a pale brown head and upperparts, and the underparts are a paler orange than the male, although generally redder than the underparts of the similar but larger female common redstart.It is named after Jean Moussier (1795–1850) who was an amateur naturalist and a surgeon in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars.

New Forest

The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire.

It was proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror, featuring in the Domesday Book. Pre-existing rights of common pasture are still recognised today, being enforced by official verderers. In the 18th century, The New Forest became a source of timber for the Royal Navy. It remains a habitat for many rare birds and mammals.


Phoenicurus is a genus of passerine birds in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae, native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Along with three other closely related genera, they are named redstarts from their orange-red tails ('start' is an old name for a tail). They are small insectivores, the males mostly brightly coloured in various combinations of red, blue, white, and black, the females light brown with a red tail. A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010 led to a reorganization of the Old World flycatchers family in which the two species in Rhyacornis and the single species in Chaimarrornis were merged into Phoenicurus.The genus Phoenicurus was introduced by the English naturalist Thomas Forster in 1817. The name Phoenicurus is from Ancient Greek phoinix, "red", and -ouros -"tailed".The genus contains the following species:

Przevalski's redstart (Phoenicurus alaschanicus)

Eversmann's redstart (Phoenicurus erythronotus)

Blue-capped redstart (Phoenicurus coeruleocephala)

Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)

Hodgson's redstart (Phoenicurus hodgsoni)

White-throated redstart (Phoenicurus schisticeps)

Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus)

Moussier's redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri)

Güldenstädt's redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogastrus)

Blue-fronted redstart (Phoenicurus frontalis)

Plumbeous water redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus) (previously in the genus Rhyacornis)

Luzon water redstart (Phoenicurus bicolor) (previously in the genus Rhyacornis)

White-capped redstart (Phoenicurus leucocephalus) (previously in the monotypic genus Chaimarrornis)

Red-flanked bluetail

The red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus), also known as the orange-flanked bush-robin, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and related species, are often called chats.


Redstarts are a group of small Old World birds. They were formerly classified in the thrush family (Turdidae), but are now known to be part of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae. They are currently treated in four genera, the true redstarts Phoenicurus, the closely related genera Chaimarrornis and Rhyacornis, and one species in the less closely related genus Luscinia.

These are insectivorous ground feeding birds, most of which have the red tail which gives the group its name; "start" is the modern English reflex of Middle English stert, Old English steort, tail of an animal. Most species are migratory, with northern species being long-distance migrants and more southerly species often being altitudinal migrants breeding at high altitude and moving lower down in winter.They are small insectivores, the males mostly brightly coloured in various combinations of red, blue, white, and black, the females light brown with a red tail. Recent genetic studies have shown that the genus Phoenicurus is not monophyletic, but may be made so by the inclusion of Chaimarrornis and Rhyacornis within Phoenicurus; this conclusion is yet to be taken up by the International Ornithological Congress.The New World redstarts in the genera Setophaga and Myioborus are not closely related; they are New World warblers in the family Parulidae. Members of the latter genus, with extensive white and no red in their tails, are now more often called "whitestarts".

Slovene Hills

The Slovene Hills or the Slovenian Hills (Slovene: Slovenske gorice, German: Windische Bühel or Windische Büheln) is the largest hilly region of Slovenia, a smaller part is located in the Austrian province of Styria. It is situated in the northeast of the country and has an area of 1,017 square kilometres (393 sq mi). It comprises the Western Slovene Hills and the Eastern Slovene Hills (also named Prlekija). The region is known for its vineyards and wines. The central town and municipality is Lenart.

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