Common Redstart and Cuckoo

© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Phoenicurus phoenicurus

  • Name also: Common Redstart
  • Family: Flycatchers – Muscicapidae
  • Appearance: A colourful and lively small songbird. Central tail feathers brownish, outer tail feathers and rump rusty reddish brown. Male has a distinctive black face mask and white forehead. Female duller in colouring, paler than similar female Black Redstart.
  • Size: Length 13–14.5 cm, weight 12–18 g.
  • Nest: Usually in a hole in a building or a nest box. Prefers nest boxes with wider openings. Nests made of moss, root fibres, lichen and dried grass, lined thickly with feathers and hairs.
  • Breeding: 3–9 eggs laid in May, incubated by female for 13–15 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 12–15 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in well-lit woodland habitats throughout Finland. Breeding population estimated at 500,000–800,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal. Flies south August–September, returning April–May, after spending the winter in North Africa.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A restrained “hyit” similar to call of Chiff-chaff, followed by a clicking “hueet-dik-dik”. Song subtle and melancholy.

Redstarts are small, shy but lively songbirds. They constantly flutter their tails, which are brownish in the centre with rusty reddish edges. Males in breeding plumage have a rusty reddish chest, a white forehead, a black mask over their cheeks and throat, and grey colouring on their cap and back. Females and juveniles are more uniformly brownish, though a rusty tinge may be discernible on their chests. In autumn, males moult and their throats have white markings and their backs become more brownish. Redstarts have black legs, black beaks, and dark brown irises.

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