The Restart is one of the glories of the woodland of Europe and North- West Asia in the summer. The male is a very brightly coloured bird with a shimmering red tail (that is what redstart means). It has orange underparts, a blue-grey back, wings,nape and crown. The forehead is white and the area from bill to eye and ear-coverts and down to the upper breast is black. The females and immatures are less bright on the tail and brown above and paler orange below - juveniles are spotty.
These are long distance migrants wintering just South of the Sahara. In Greece they are summer visitors and replaced by Robins in the winter. Aristotle wondered whether the species transmogrified themselves! They mainly feed from the ground, on trees or through flycatching and insects are what they need. In some areas they take nest boxes and mainly nest in holes, in others the norm is to nest in tunnels in thick vegetation. Two broods are normal except in the North and their eggs are a plain and simple blue. The population breeding in Britain is about 100,000 and Ireland probably less than five.
A small migrant insect eater with a red tail.
The following Bird On! picture is available:
Redstart (Watercolour by Robert Gillmor)
Length 140 mm Closed wing 80 mm Weight 15 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead