So why the name?
Why is a redstart called a redstart?
Actually, the word start is an Old World word for "tail" and there are several species of unrelated European redstarts. Our redstart is a warbler and its tail is reddish, although I think it's really more orange than rouge. But it varies.
Studies have shown that the intensity of the color on the male's train plays a role in his success in holding territory. The more intense the orange-red the better.
Ijams educator Emily Boves heard and saw an American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla, on the River Trail west of the boardwalk at Ijams on Wednesday.
Redstarts are only passing through the nature center on their way to their nesting grounds much farther north. They winter in the tropics where they are known as the "Christmas bird" because they usually appear around the holidays.
- Text by Stephen Lyn Bales, photo by Dan Pancamo