(Setophaga ruticilla) Wood Warbler family
Called also : YELLOW-TAILED WARBLER
Length5 to 5.5 inches.
MaleIn spring plumage: Head, neck, back, and middle breast glossy black, with blue reflections. Breast and underneath white, slightly flushed with salmon, increasing to bright salmon-orange on the sides of the body and on the wing linings. Occasional specimens show orange-red. Tail feathers partly black, partly orange, with broad black band across the end. Orange markings on wings. Bill and feet black. In autumn : Fading into rusty black, olive, and yellow.
FemaleOlive-brown, and yellow where the male is orange. Young browner than the females.
RangeNorth America to upper Canada. West occasionally, as far as the Pacific coast, but commonly found in summer in the Atlantic and Middle States.
MigrationsEarly May. End of September. Summer resident.
Late some evening, early in May, when one by one the birds have withdrawn their voices from the vesper chorus, listen for the lingering “tsee, ‘tsee,’tseet (usually twelve times repeated in a minute), that the redstart sweetly but rather monotonously sings from the evergreens, where, as his tiny body burns in the twilight, Mrs. Wright likens him to a “wind-blown firebrand, half glowing, half charred.”
But by daylight this brilliant little warbler is constantly on the alert. It is true he has the habit, like the flycatchers (among which some learned ornithologists still class him), of sitting pensively on a branch, with fluffy feathers and drooping wings; but the very next instant he shows true warbler blood by making a sudden dash upward, then downward through the air, tumbling somersaults, as if blown by the wind, flitting from branch to branch, busily snapping at the tiny insects hidden beneath the leaves, clinging to the tree-trunk like a creeper, and singing between bites.
Possibly he will stop long enough in his mad chase to open and shut his tail, fan-fashion, with a dainty egotism that, in the ‘peacock, becomes rank vanity.