American Redstart

Illustration of the American Redstart/Candelita

American Redstart (Eng.), Candelita, Pavito Migratorio (Sp.), Setophaga ruticilla (Sci.), Transient, migratory species, West Indies.

Raffaele, H.J., et al (1998), A Guide to Birds of the West Indies, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Class-Aves, Order-Passeriformes, Family-Parulidae, Genus-Setophaga,. Species-S. ruticilla. A boldly-patterned warbler of second growth woods, the American Redstart frequently flashes its orange and black wings and tail to flush insect prey from foliage.

This species was selected by Partners in Flight, - Compañeros en Vuelo - ( an international avian conservation organization launched in 1990 in response to concerns about declines in the populations of many neotropical land bird species as their logo symbol.


The American Redstart is a small songbird – approximately 4 to 5 inches (11 to 13 centimeters) in overall length with a wingspan of between 6 to 7 inches (16 to 19 centimeters), weighing from 0.21 to 0.32 ounces (6 to 9 grams). Males are black with orange patches on sides of chest, wings and tail – females and young males have gray heads and backs with yellow instead of orange patches.


S. ruticilla forages by flashing its wings and tail to startle insect prey. These birds feed on insects which are usually caught by fly-catching, but they have also been seen to catch their insect prey by gleaning it off of leaves. Its song is a musical series of “see” notes – its call is a soft “chip” sound (click here to hear recording). Young males resemble females in plumage until the second year -- Males in the gray and yellow yearling plumage will try to hold territories and attract mates, singing vigorously. Some succeed in breeding in this plumage, but most do not breed successfully until they are two years old. The male American Redstart occasionally is polygynous, having two mates at the same time. Unlike many other polygynous species of birds that have two females nesting in the same territory, the redstart holds two separate territories up to 500 m (1,640 ft) apart. The male starts to attract a second female after the first has completed her clutch and is incubating the eggs.


The American Redstart winters in second-growth woods, mangroves and shade coffee plantations when wintering in the West Indies.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

In trees near nature trails in the lower sections of the forest during the winter months (September through April).