We were lucky to catch this mature male American Redstart at rest for a second before it resumed its flitting patrol among the thick alder branches. Both sexes of these Warblers are vigorous invaders and defenders of territory.


There was no sign of a mate. Female Redstarts have no red jewelry. They’re white and gray-olive, with yellow patches on their wings and tail. So are first-year male Redstarts, making identifications difficult for amateurs like us.

The mature male’s red-orange tail patches are how the birds got their name, even though that name is descriptive only of older male Redstarts: “start” derives from the Middle English “stert,” meaning tail. (Brooklin, Maine)