How to Identify an American Redstart? Zoologists Tell You The Answer!

The American redstart is a stunning, distinctive warbler. Learn how to identify these colorful birds, and see what the female and juveniles look like.

Redstart ID Tips

Bright  is common among warblers. But the vibrant American redstart is distinctive. Males are mostly black with rich, reddish orange patches on the sides, wings and tails.

Redstarts are among the most active  as they flit through trees. They fan out their brightly colored tails, a notable behavior that makes them easy to identify. If you’re birding on the edges of eastern forests, be sure to look for redstarts.

Like most warblers, redstarts usually aren’t interested in bird feeders. But they readily come to drink water from a birdbath.

Look for  at suet feeders.

American Redstart Female

Females are mostly gray and yellow or yellowish orange. Linda Petersen of Terril, Iowa, shared this photo (above) of a female redstart during fall migration.

Juvenile American Redstart

For this species of warbler, the resemblance between the young birds and the adult females continues beyond the first fall. One-year-old males are subtly colored, like females.

During the second summer, a few black feathers show up on the males to set them apart from females, but it isn’t until later in the season that the male redstarts molt into full black-and-orange plumage.


One of the most common migrant warblers, the redstart spends the winter in the tropics, from Florida to South America. It breeds in summer in the eastern and northern U.S. and all across southern Canada.

American Redstart Song

This warbler’s variable song often ends in a sharp .