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19

Black Redstart

(Phoenicurus ochruros)
Alternate name(s): "Tithy's Redstart", "Blackstart", "Black Redtail"
German name(s): "Hausrotschwanz"

Size: 13-14.5 cm; wing span: 23-26 cm
Weight: 12-22 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Black Redstart at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "gibraltariensis"

ADULT

MALE

Near-lateral view of a male Black Redstart; note the prominent wing bar and the all-grey front, which is characteristic of this race (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Wizna, on the river Narew, Poland, May 2016]

Lateral view of a male Black Redstart (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Wizna, on the river Narew, Poland, May 2016]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Black Redstart (photo courtesy of A. Sarok)
[Temerin, Serbia, September 2016]

Lateral view of a female Black Redstart (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Ostrow Mazowiecka, Masovia, Poland, May 2016]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Moulting juvenile Black Redstart (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Ostrow Mazowiecka, Masovia, Poland, August 2016]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Black Redstart; note the yellow gape (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Malinowo, Masovia, Poland, August 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Black Redstart; note the yellow gape (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Malinowo, Masovia, Poland, August 2016]

Race "aterrimus"

ADULT

MALE

Males of this race have the peculiarity that they can come in various shades of grey to black. Some individuals are so black that they look hypermelanistic (i.e. as if they had an overabundance of black colour pigments in their plumage).

Frontal view of a male Black Redstart (photo courtesy of G. Pinelas)
[Queluz, Lisbon, Portugal, January 2017]

Frontal view of an almost pitch-black male Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, November 2014]

Near-lateral view of a male Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, November 2014]

Lateral view of a male Black Redstart on its rocky perch (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Cabo Raso, Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal, April 2018]

Lateral view of an almost pitch-black male Black Redstart on its rocky perch (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Cabo Raso, Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal, April 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a male Black Redstart; note the characteristic white wing panels (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Vale Vilarica, Tras os Montes, Portugal, May 2018]

View onto the upperparts of an almost pitch-black male Black Redstart; note the characteristic white wing panels
(photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, May 2015]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of G. Pinelas)
[Queluz, Lisbon, Portugal, December 2016]

Near-lateral view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, February 2015]

Near-lateral view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of G. Pinelas)
[Queluz, Lisbon, Portugal, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of G. Pinelas)
[Reboleira, Lisbon, Portugal, September 2016]

Lateral view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, June 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of G. Pinelas)
[Reboleira, Lisbon, Portugal, September 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, March 2014]

Sex unknown

Lateral view of a female (or first-year male) Black Redstart (photo courtesy of J. Pires )
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, November 2018]

Race "ochruros"

ADULT

MALE

Near-lateral view of a male Black Redstart; note the gradual transition from black to ochre on the belly characteristic of the nominate race (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Wizna, on the river Narew, Poland, May 2016]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of an immature male Black Redstart in first summer advanced plumage, with its prey, a flying insect
(photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)

Race "semirufus"

Black Redstarts, nominate race "semirufus", were photographed in Oman.

Breeding information

Breeding season: Mar - Aug Eggs: 4 - 6 Incubation period: 12 - 13 days Fledging age: 12 - 17 days

The length of the breeding season depends on geographic latitude and can start earlier and end later in southern parts of the range, while starting later and ending earlier in the northern parts of the range. Two broods can be raised in most seasons.

Nest building: Female Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

The male selects the nest site, but the female builds the nest. One peculiarity is that the chicks are semi-precocious - they leave the nest a few days before they can fly.

Nest

Type: Basket in cavity Material: Grass, moss, straw, feathers Height above ground: 2 - ? m

In recent times (since the 20th century) Black Redstarts build nests in suitable niches in houses, sheds or barns, e.g. under awnings - behaviour which had previously not been observed.

Black Redstart nest with 3 begging chicks; since later 5 chicks were seen, although not visible, there must be 2 more eggs at the bottom of the nest (photo courtesy of H. Dahlem-Senger)
[Eltville, Hessen, Germany, June 2019]

Black Redstart nest with 5 chicks (photo courtesy of H. Dahlem-Senger)
[Eltville, Hessen, Germany, June 2019]

Female Black Redstart at its nest (photo courtesy of H. Dahlem-Senger)
[Eltville, Hessen, Germany, June 2019]

Male Black Redstart bringing food for its brood (photo courtesy of H. Dahlem-Senger)
[Eltville, Hessen, Germany, June 2019]

Male Black Redstart bringing food for its brood (photo courtesy of H. Dahlem-Senger)
[Eltville, Hessen, Germany, June 2019]

Eggs

Size: 19 x 14.5 mm Colour: White Shape: Tapered oval

Food, Diet

Black Redstarts are primarily insectivores.

Lateral view of a male Black Redstart with its prey, a caterpillar (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Wizna, on the river Narew, Poland, May 2016]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

brstart_dw_20180615.m4a gibraltariensis
(Poland)
Territorial calls? (male) © DW
brstart_dw_20160612.m4a gibraltariensis
(Poland)
Territorial calls? © DW
brstart_dw_20160805.m4a gibraltariensis
(Poland)
Territorial calls? © DW
brstart_dw_20190630.m4a gibraltariensis
(Poland)
Pair Q&A (Territorial calls?) © DW
brstart_dw_20160915.m4a gibraltariensis
(Poland)
Various © DW

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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