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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 10.1 years (wild)
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Reproduction

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Like most warblers, Setophaga ruticilla is predominantly monogamous with rare cases of polygamy. Three stages of courtship have been described: pair-formation, pre-nest building, and nest building. Pair-formation typically begins immediately after females arrive on the breeding grounds. Males aerially chase potential mates, who will only fly a short distance and then perform a tail-spreading display and give harsh chip notes. Once established, pairs will visit potential nest sites within the male's territory. Nest sites are selected by females, and males will closely follow females during this period, presumably to guard them from other males. Males give two main types of displays during nest-building: fluff displays and bow displays. Fluff displays involve raising the feathers on the head and back, while feathers are sleek for bow displays and the male will lower his body to the ground while keeping his head vertical and tail spread.

Mating System: monogamous

Setophaga ruticilla is a Neotropical migrant that travels to North America to breed in the spring. Courtship and pair-formation begins within a week of the arrival of females, which occurs from mid- to late May. After a pair has formed, the female alone selects the nest site which is typically up against a tree trunk, hidden in dense vegetation. The cup-shaped nest consists of tightly-woven, fine materials such as grass, feathers, roots, birch bark, or animal hair. Once the nest is complete, the female lays between 2 and 5 white or cream-colored eggs which are speckled with varying amounts of brown. The clutch is incubated by the female for 10 to 13 days. The young fledge after 9 days in the nest, and may remain with one parent for up to 3 weeks after fledging. First-year males are able to reproduce during their first breeding season, but they retain the female-like plumage which may contribute to low reproductive success (less than 50% of first-year males) until year 2. In contrast, most first-year females successfully reproduce during their first breeding season. There is evidence for a skewed sex ratio that results in a surplus of unmated males.

Breeding interval: American redstarts breed once yearly

Breeding season: The breeding season for American redstarts occurs from mid- or late May through the end of July

Range eggs per season: 2 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.

Range time to hatching: 10 to 13 days.

Average time to hatching: 12 days.

Average fledging age: 9 days.

Range time to independence: 3 (high) weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): <1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): <1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Male Setophaga ruticilla are very territorial and will actively defend their territories, mates, and young. Females select a suitable nesting site and construct the entire nest alone. Once eggs are laid, females also perform all incubation for an average of 12 days. The young are altricial at birth and thus require significant parental investment. The helpless hatchlings are brooded by the female alone, as the male lacks a brood patch. Both parents participate equally in feeding the young, and each mate makes between 4 and 13 feeding trips per hour. Both parents also remove fecal sacs from the nest to reduce predation and keep sanitary nest conditions. After the young fledge at 9 days of age, each parent typically cares for certain offspring only. The two parents often separate with their respective young, although the male typically stays near the nest site.

One study has demonstrated a correlation between male coloration and level of parental investment. Male Setophaga ruticilla that featured brighter orange coloration on the flanks made significantly more trips to the nest and overall spent more time at the nest. Therefore, male flank coloration may play a role in sexual selection and may explain why first-year males have low levels of reproductive success until they obtain their adult, black and orange coloration.

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Behavior

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Setophaga ruticilla primarily uses vocal and visual forms of communication. Male Setophaga ruticilla give distinctive songs which are used to defend territory or attract mates. Songs of this species are highly variable but are generally rapid and high pitched. Songs may repeat the same 1 or 2 phrases or have 2 to 8 different phrases given in rapid succession. Some songs end in an accented, terminal note while others simply end unaccented. Setophaga ruticilla uses these different song types to communicate in different situations. Repeated songs with accented endings are typically used for attracting mates, or while males are in close proximity to their mates. Unmated males usually use only this song type. After males secure a mate, they then switch to singing serial songs to defend their territories against neighboring birds. Like many birds, a significant amount of song variation is due to local dialects. Many Setophaga ruticilla individuals can be identified by distinct characteristics of their song such as pattern, frequency, or distinctive syllables. Males of this species can quickly learn the songs of neighboring rivals and incorporate them into their own songs, leading to unique neighborhood dialects.

Setophaga ruticilla also uses body postures and movements as communication. During courtship, males will often chase potential mates in a somewhat aggressive manner and interested females will respond by flying a short distance, then giving a tail-spreading display. Males often give two types of displays towards females: fluff displays and bows. Fluff displays consist of fluffing the body feathers, particularly the bright orange flanks. There is evidence that brighter orange flanks correlate to higher levels of male parental investment, and raising these feathers may serve to advertise parental quality. Bow displays are typically given later in courtship, when a male sleeks his feathers, lowers his breast to the ground, and holds his head vertically.

This species is highly territorial year-round and employs song, body postures, and aerial attacks to deter intruders. As discussed above, males often advertise territory boundaries through singing, but females also give a variety of chips and short notes towards intruders. Both males and females assume threatening body postures including head-forward displays with drooping wings and bill agape, and tail-spreading displays with tail held near vertically. Males also give a wings-out display where they raise and spread their wings, likely to display the orange wing patches. Males also make distinctive circling flights during territorial disputes. Two neighboring males (occasionally females) will alternate short, deliberate, circling flights in pursuit of each other.

Like most birds, Setophaga ruticilla perceives the environment through auditory, visual, tactile, and chemical stimuli.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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Setophaga ruticilla is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) an account of its wide geographic range and relatively stable population size. Recent population data however, has shown this species to be in slight decline and numbers should be monitored closely in the future. Like many declining Neotropical migrants, this species likely suffers from habitat loss on both the wintering and breeding grounds. The main causes for habitat loss is logging for human conversion of land to urban or residential areas. Setophaga ruticilla also prefers shrubby, early-successional habitats which naturally age and progress to mature forests which are less suitable. This species also suffers significant fatalities from impacts with man-made structures during night migration. Over four fall migrations, two towers in Florida accounted for over 1,600 Setophaga ruticilla deaths. Setophaga ruticilla is also a common host for brown-headed cowbirds which decrease reproductive success. Currently, there are few conservation efforts being made for this species, as it is still of least concern. In general, efforts are being made to create sustainable logging practices that support the creation of early-successional habitat. Sustainable farming practices, such as shade-grown coffee, are becoming more prevalent on Central and South American countries that strike a balance between agriculture and providing habitat for songbirds. Many local Audubon chapters are promoting "lights out" campaigns that work with businesses to turn lights off in large skyscrapers during peak migration season, which reduces migrating bird collisions and fatalities.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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There are no known adverse effects of Setophaga ruticilla on humans.

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Setophaga ruticilla is a common visitor to shade-grown coffee plantations in Central and South America. These insectivorous warblers are attracted to the ample vegetation provided on these plantations and will consume large amounts of crop pests. This species, along with other insectivores, help to reduce farmer reliance on pesticides.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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As an insectivore, Setophaga ruticilla consumes significant amounts of insects and likely has an impact on local insect communities. This species also consumes small amounts of fruits and seeds during the fall which may contribute to seed distribution for the plant species it feeds upon. Eggs, nestlings, and adults are consumed by a wide variety of predators. Like many birds, this species is host to several ectoparasites including three lice species and one tick. Setophaga ruticilla is a common host for brown-headed cowbirds and currently will accept and successfully raise cowbird chicks. Populations of Setophaga ruticilla that are exposed to Molothrus ater will react more aggressively to adults than populations that have encountered them less often.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater)
  • lice (Menacanthus)
  • lice (Myrsidea incerta)
  • lice (Philopterus subflavescens)
  • ticks
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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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Setophaga ruticilla is nearly exclusively insectivorous, but will occasionally consume berries or seeds during the fall when insect abundance decreases. Morphologically, the flattened beak and rictal bristles are similar to old and new world flycatchers (Muscicapidae and Tyrannidae, respectively) and thus these species share similar foraging behaviors and diets. Setophaga ruticilla employs the foliage gleaning method to capture prey and often flicks its brightly-patterned tail to flush stationary prey. Flying prey is then pursued and caught aerially, after which the bird lands on a different perch than it alighted from. Setophaga ruticilla is known for highly energetic foraging habits and is often seen rapidly hopping through all heights of vegetation. It prefers to forage from twigs and branches versus tree trunks or limbs. Overall, this species is a very flexible, opportunistic feeder that can easily adapt to varying habitat, season, insect community, vegetation structure, and time of day. Diet consists largely of caterpillars, moths, flies, leafhoppers and planthoppers, small wasps, beetles, aphids, stoneflies, and spiders. Few berries and seeds are consumed, but are most often from barberry (Berberis), serviceberry (Amelanchier), and magnolia (Magnolia).

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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Commonly known as American redstarts, Setophaga ruticilla is a Neotropical migrant warbler that spends portions of the year in both the Nearctic and the Neotropical regions. During the spring and summer, Setophaga ruticilla breeds across much of Canada and the United States. It inhabits the southern regions of Canada from the east to west coast. In the United States, Setophaga ruticilla may be found in limited regions of the northern Midwest, and most states east of the Mississippi River. Exclusions include portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. This species migrates biannually across much of the United States and Central America to reach its wintering grounds in southern Central and northwestern South America. Setophaga ruticilla also overwinters on many Caribbean islands including Jamaica and Cuba.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); neotropical (Introduced )

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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Setophaga ruticilla selects varying habitats depending on the season and geographic location. During the breeding season, this warbler inhabits open-canopy, mostly deciduous forests, second growth, and forest edge across much of the United States and southern Canada. This insectivorous bird often shares its foraging habitats with other warblers, and is found feeding in the mid to lower regions of a tree or shrub. Setophaga ruticilla prefers to build its nest well within dense shrubs or the fork of a low tree, and males will select territories that contain several of these potential nest sites.

During migration, Setophaga ruticilla stopover in dense shrubby habitats where food is abundant. On their wintering grounds in Central and South America, this warbler may be found in nearly all woody habitats but tend to avoid non-forested agricultural areas. It is often found in shade-grown coffee plantations which provide native trees and shrubs, as well as coffee trees. Elevations occupied vary by location, as this species may be found at elevations up to 3,000 m in South America, but only up to 1,500 in Jamaica. During the non-breeding season, Setophaga ruticilla is influenced by strong dominance hierarchies that result in sexual habitat segregation. Older males exhibit the most dominant behavior and will occupy preferred, resource-abundant habitats (mangroves). Females and other subordinate individuals are thus restricted to lower quality habitats (scrub), which results in greater mass loss and lower survivorship rates during the non-breeding season. Studies have shown that in preferred habitats, sex ratio is 3:2 (mostly males) while in lower quality the ratio is 1:3 (mostly females).

Range elevation: 3,000 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Expectancy

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The oldest Setophaga ruticilla on record was a male banded in adult plumage (making it at least 2 years old) which was re-captured approximately 9 years later, making it at least 10 years old. There is evidence that many females live to be at least 5. Setophaga ruticilla is not kept in captivity and thus there is no data for captive lifespan. Annual survival rates are estimated to be between 50 and 60%. Females are thought to suffer a slightly higher mortality rate as they spend significantly more time on the nest (brooding) and are often consumed by nest predators.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
5 to 10 days.

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tricia Jones, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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ADW Zookeeper, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Morphology

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Setophaga ruticilla is a smaller warbler measuring 13.3 cm in length and weighing 8.3 g. Adult males have mostly black upperparts with bold patches of orange. The sides of breast, bases of wing feathers, and bases of the outer tail feathers feature large patches of bright orange. The belly and undertail coverts are white. Adult females feature the same pattern, but have mostly gray upperparts with patches of bright yellow or orange in older females. They have olive-colored backs and the wings and tail feathers are a darker gray than the head. Throat, belly, and undertail coverts are pale gray to white. First year males closely resemble females and will obtain adult male plumage after the first breeding season. Females and young males may also feature a slight white eye-ring and pale supercillium. All sexes and ages have black legs, feet and bills. The short bill is very similar to insect-eating flycatchers in being relatively flat and surrounded by rictal bristles.

Range mass: 6 to 9 g.

Average mass: 8.3 g.

Range length: 11 to 14 cm.

Average length: 13.3 cm.

Average wingspan: 19.7 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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Setophaga ruticilla is vulnerable to both terrestrial and aerial predators. Highest rates of predation occur during the breeding season when eggs and helpless nestlings are abundant and easy prey for terrestrial predators. Females mostly brood during this period and thus often fall prey to nest predators. Common terrestrial predators include red squirrels, fishers, eastern chipmunks, black bears, flying squirrels, fox snakes, and domestic cats. Aerial predators take nestlings, eggs, or even adults in flight. Possible aerial predators include jaegers, blue jays, common ravens, northern saw-whet owls, common grackles, northern goshawks, and sharp-shinned hawks, and Cooper's hawks.

Known Predators:

  • red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
  • fishers (Martes pennanti)
  • eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus)
  • black bears (Ursus americanus)
  • flying squirrels (Glaucomys)
  • fox snakes (Pantherophis gloydi)
  • domestic cats (Felis catus)
  • jaegers (Stercorarius)
  • blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata)
  • common ravens (Corvus corax)
  • northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus)
  • common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula)
  • Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii)
  • northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis)
  • sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus)
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Sterling, R. 2011. "Setophaga ruticilla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Setophaga_ruticilla.html
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Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
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Tanya Dewey, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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George Hammond, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Setophaga ruticilla

provided by DC Birds Brief Summaries

A medium-sized (5 inches) wood warbler, the male American Redstart is most easily identified by its black body, white belly, and conspicuous orange patches on the wings, flanks, and tail. Female American Redstarts are olive-green above and pale below with yellow on the wings, flanks, and tail. In particular, this species’ tail sets it apart from all other North American wood warblers as no other species has such large, brightly-colored tail patches. The American Redstart breeds across southern Canada and much of the United States. While this species is fairly widespread in the northeast and interior south, it is more local elsewhere, and is almost entirely absent as a breeding bird in the desert southwest. Most American Redstarts spend the winter from northern Mexico and the Bahamas south to Brazil, although a few winter in coastal California, along the southern Colorado River, and in south Florida. American Redstarts breed in a number of deciduous forest habitats, particularly those near water. In winter, this species may be found a number of shrubby habitats, such as mangroves, thickets, and tropical forests with dense undergrowth. American Redstarts primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders. In appropriate habitat, American Redstarts may be observed foraging for food in the forest canopy, where their habit of frequently flashing their bright tails makes them more conspicuous than they might otherwise be. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a high “tsee” repeated three or four times in quick succession. American Redstarts are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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Reid Rumelt

Setophaga ruticilla

provided by EOL authors

A medium-sized (5 inches) wood warbler, the male American Redstart is most easily identified by its black body, white belly, and conspicuous orange patches on the wings, flanks, and tail. Female American Redstarts are olive-green above and pale below with yellow on the wings, flanks, and tail. In particular, this species’ tail sets it apart from all other North American wood warblers as no other species has such large, brightly-colored tail patches. The American Redstart breeds across southern Canada and much of the United States. While this species is fairly widespread in the northeast and interior south, it is more local elsewhere, and is almost entirely absent as a breeding bird in the desert southwest. Most American Redstarts spend the winter from northern Mexico and the Bahamas south to Brazil, although a few winter in coastal California, along the southern Colorado River, and in south Florida. American Redstarts breed in a number of deciduous forest habitats, particularly those near water. In winter, this species may be found a number of shrubby habitats, such as mangroves, thickets, and tropical forests with dense undergrowth. American Redstarts primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders. In appropriate habitat, American Redstarts may be observed foraging for food in the forest canopy, where their habit of frequently flashing their bright tails makes them more conspicuous than they might otherwise be. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a high “tsee” repeated three or four times in quick succession. American Redstarts are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

References

  • American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Setophaga ruticilla. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Sherry, Thomas W. and Richard T. Holmes. 1997. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/277
  • eBird Range Map - American Redstart. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

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Rumelt, Reid B. Setophaga ruticilla. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Setophaga ruticilla. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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Robert Costello (kearins)
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American redstart

provided by wikipedia EN

The American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is a New World warbler. It is unrelated to the Old World (Common) redstart.

Taxonomy

The American redstart was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Motacilla ruticilla.[2]

The genus name Setophaga is from Ancient Greek ses, "moth", and phagos, "eating", and the specific ruticilla is New Latin for "redstart" from Latin rutilus, "red", and New Latin cilla, "tail".[3] "Redstart" refers to the male's red tail, "start" being an old word for tail.[4]

Description

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American redstart of Quintana, Texas

The American redstart is a smallish warbler. It measures 11 to 14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in) in total length and has a wingspan of 16 to 23 cm (6.3 to 9.1 in). Its length is boosted by a relatively long tail and it is one of the lightest birds in its family.[5] Weight is considerably less in winter than in summer. Males weigh an average of 8.6 g (0.30 oz) in summer but drop to 7.2 g (0.25 oz) in winter, while females drop even more from an average of 8.7 g (0.31 oz) to an average of 6.9 g (0.24 oz).[6][7] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 5.5 to 6.9 cm (2.2 to 2.7 in), the tail is 4.9 to 5.8 cm (1.9 to 2.3 in), the bill is 0.7 to 0.9 cm (0.28 to 0.35 in) and the tarsus is 1.5 to 1.9 cm (0.59 to 0.75 in).[8] The breeding males are unmistakable, jet black above apart from large orange-red patches on their wings and tails. Their breast sides are also orange, with the rest of their underparts white. In their other plumages, American redstarts display green in their upperparts, along with black central tails and grey heads. The orange patches of the breeding males are replaced by yellow in the plumages of the females and young birds. Orange and yellow coloration is due to the presence of carotenoids; males possess the red carotenoid canthaxanthin and the yellow carotenoids canary xanthophyll A and B, all of which mix together to produce an orange color, while the females possess only the yellow carotenoids. Recent research indicates that an age and sex effect on observed color attributes of hue, brightness, and saturation exists in American redstarts, with the exception for saturation, which only showed an age effect.[9] Their song is a series of musical see notes. Their call is a soft chip.

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Male American redstart

Distribution and habitat

Although perhaps not as common as in the past, the redstart appears to be one of the most stable and abundant species of New World warbler, its numbers exceeded in total by the common yellowthroat, yellow warbler and yellow-rumped warbler, because of much wider natural breeding ranges in those species and perhaps exceeding those in sheer density within appropriate range.[10][11][12] Their breeding is in North America, spanning southern Canada and the eastern United States. They are migratory, wintering in Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America, and are very rare vagrants to western Europe. During the breeding season, the redstart inhabits open-canopy, mostly deciduous forests, second growth, and forest edges. It is insectivorous, often sharing its foraging habitats with other warblers, and is found feeding in the mid to lower regions of a tree or shrub. A wide range of habitats are occupied during migration, including many shrubby areas. On its wintering grounds in Central and South America, the redstart may be found in nearly all woody habitats but tends to avoid non-forested agricultural areas. It is often found in shade-grown coffee plantations, which provide native trees and shrubs, as well as coffee trees. Elevations occupied vary by location, with redstarts found at elevations up to 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in South America, but only 1,500 m (4,900 ft) in Jamaica.

Behavior

Breeding

The breeding habitats of the redstarts are open woodlands or scrub, often located near water. They nest in the lower part of a bush, laying 2–5 eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest. The clutch is incubated by the female for 10 to 13 days. The young fledge after 9 days in the nest, and may remain with one parent for up to 3 weeks afterwards. First-year males are able to reproduce during their first breeding season, but they retain the female-like plumage which may contribute to low reproductive success (less than 50% of first-year males) until year 2. In contrast, most first-year females successfully reproduce during their first breeding season. There is evidence for a skewed sex ratio that results in a surplus of unmated males.[13][14]

American redstarts display a mixed mating strategy; they are predominantly monogamous but around 25% of males maintain multiple territories and are polygynous. Even within monogamous pairs, a high proportion of offspring—as many as 40%—are not fathered by the male of the pair. The intensity of the male's coloration (which is due to carotenoid pigments) predicts their success at holding territory in their non-breeding, winter locations in the Caribbean, the probability that they will be polygynous, and the proportion of offspring in their nests that they will themselves father.[15] Males are invariably very territorial and the superior males occupy the best habitats, such as moist mangroves, while inferior males occupy secondary habitats such as dry scrub forests.

Feeding

The redstarts feed almost exclusively on insects which are usually caught by flycatching. American redstarts also have been known to catch their insect prey by gleaning it from leaves. This is a very active species. The tail is often held partly fanned out. These birds have been observed flashing the orange and yellow of their tails on and off to startle and chase insects from the underbrush. Overall, this species is a very flexible, opportunistic feeder that can easily adapt to varying habitat, season, insect community, vegetation structure, and time of day. The diet consists largely of caterpillars, moths, flies, leafhoppers and planthoppers, small wasps, beetles, aphids, stoneflies and spiders. Few berries and seeds are consumed, but are most often from barberry, serviceberry, and magnolia.[14]

Mortality

The oldest known banded redstart lived to over 10 years of age. Other adults have been known to reach around 5 years. However, few survive past the first stages of life, as the bird is vulnerable to both terrestrial and aerial predators. Highest rates of predation occur during the breeding season when eggs and helpless nestlings are abundant and easy prey for varied predators. Females mostly brood during this period and thus often fall prey to nest predators. Common terrestrial predators include red squirrels, fishers, eastern chipmunks, American black bears, flying squirrels, fox snakes, and domestic cats. Aerial predators take nestlings, eggs, or even adults in flight. Aerial predators include jaegers, blue jays, common ravens, northern saw-whet owls, common grackles, northern goshawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and Cooper's hawks.[14][16]

Conservation

Successful conservation efforts of the redstart, as for any other migrating bird, include protecting and providing habitat throughout its entire range. The benefits to coffee farms that redstarts and other "coffee birds" provide have encouraged coffee farmers to adapt shade trees and adjacent forest patches in their farming practices as additional habitat for the birds.[17] While shade tree coffee farms offer a somewhat practical compromise between habitat preservation and agriculture, there is still not enough data to back the proposition that practices like shade tree coffee farms can replace the natural habitat that was once there.[18] Still, the most effective method for American redstart conservation would be natural habitat preservation at wintering and breeding grounds.

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Setophaga ruticilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.old-form url
  2. ^ Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata (in Latin). Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). p. 186. M. grisea, gula pectoreque fulvis.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 344, 355. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. ^ "Redstart". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Ridgway, R. 1902. The birds of North and Middle America: a descriptive catalogue of the higher groups, genera, species, and subspecies of birds known to occur in North America. U.S. National Museum Bulletin no. 50.
  6. ^ Holmes, R. T. 1986. Foraging behavior of forest birds: male-female differences. Wilson Bulletin, 98:196-213.
  7. ^ Sherry, T. W. and R. T. Holmes. 1996. Winter habitat limitation in Neotropical-Nearctic migrant birds: implications for population dynamics and conservation. Ecology 77:36-48.
  8. ^ New World Warblers (Helm Field Guides) by Jon Curson. Christopher Helm Publishers (1993). 978-0713639322.
  9. ^ Faris, Michael (2011). Determination and Quantitation of Carotenoids in Setophaga ruticilla Feathers (M.A. thesis). University of Scranton. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  10. ^ AR, J. (2006). Migratory connectivity of a widely distributed songbird, the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). Ornithological Monographs, 2006(61), 14-28.
  11. ^ Sherry, T. W., & Holmes, R. T. (1992). Population fluctuations in a long-distance Neotropical migrant: Demographic evidence for the importance of breeding season events in the American Redstart.
  12. ^ Rabosky, D. L., & Lovette, I. J. (2008). Density-dependent diversification in North American wood warblers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275(1649), 2363-2371.
  13. ^ Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  14. ^ a b c Sherry, T., R. Holmes. 1997. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) (On-line). The Birds of North America Online.
  15. ^ Reudink, M. W., Marra, P. P., Boag, P. T., & Ratcliffe, L. M. (2009). Plumage coloration predicts paternity and polygyny in the American redstart. Animal Behaviour, 77, 495-501. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.11.005
  16. ^ McCallum, C., S. Hannon. 2001. 'Accipiter predation of American redstart nestlings. The Condor, 103/1: 192-194.
  17. ^ "Know your coffee birds: American Redstart". coffeehabitat.com.
  18. ^ http://www2.humboldt.edu/wildlife/faculty/johnson/pdf/Johnson_et_al_2006_ConBio.pdf

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American redstart: Brief Summary

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The American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is a New World warbler. It is unrelated to the Old World (Common) redstart.

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