American Redstart – Setophaga Ruticilla

American Redstart - Setophaga Ruticilla found in the US

Setophaga ruticilla (American redstart) is a New World warbler. It has nothing to do with the Old World (common) redstart. Carl Linnaeus described the American redstart under the binomial name Motacilla ruticilla in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae in 1758.

Quick Overview: American Redstart – Setophaga Ruticilla
Body size: Around 4.5-5.5 in (11-14 cm) and a weight of 9 g (0.3 oz)
Main colors: Black, Orange-Red, White, Gray, Gray-Olive
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Setophaga Ruticilla Description

Black upperparts and hood, orange-red patches on wings, sides, and long fanned tail, and white underparts characterize this busy warbler. Black is the color of the bill, legs, and feet. The female has a gray head and gray-olive upper parts, as well as white underparts and yellow on the flanks and tail.

American Redstart - Setophaga Ruticilla found in the US
American Redstart – Setophaga Ruticilla. Photo by: Gailhampshire


These birds have a length of 4.5-5.5 in (11-14 cm) and a weight of 9 g (0.3 oz). Their wings could range from 8 in (20 cm).


Caterpillars, moths, flies, leafhoppers and planthoppers, tiny wasps, beetles, aphids, stoneflies, and spiders make up the majority of the food. Barberry, serviceberry, and magnolia berries and seeds are the most commonly ingested berries and seeds.


American Redstarts can be found in damp, second-growth hardwood woods with a dense shrub cover across their habitat. They are mostly restricted to forested streamsides in Washington, especially those with willow and alder thickets.


Younger males appear less imposing (female-like) and are more submissive than their older counterparts, according to observation. Adult male American Redstarts tend to be more aggressive as they get older, which is reflected in their fierce territorial defense.

American Redstart Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Setophaga
  • Species: Setophaga ruticilla

Best time of the year to see

 The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Setophaga Ruticilla in the USA

Breeds from southeastern Alaska to Newfoundland, and from northern Oregon to northern Colorado, Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, and South Carolina. Winters in southern Florida, southern California, and southern Mexico, as well as places south into the tropics.

The Setophaga Ruticilla can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

American Redstart – Setophaga Ruticilla

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