National Geographic Magazine/Volume 31/Number 4/Friends of Our Forests/Redstart

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The Warblers of North America[edit]

Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)[edit]

Female and Male

Length, nearly 5½ inches. To be distinguished from other warblers by its coloration and its motions. (See below.)

Range: Breeds from central British Columbia and eastern Canada to Washington, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and North Carolina; winters in the West lndies and from Mexico to Ecuador.

Its beauty of form and plumage and its graceful motions place this dainty bird at the head of our list of wood warblers—a place of distinction indeed. The bird appears to be the incarnation of animated motion and fairly dances its way through the forest. Spanish imagination has coined a suggestive and fitting name for the redstart, candelita, the little “torch-bearer.” The full appropriateness of the name appears as the graceful creature flits through the greenery, displaying the salmon-colored body and the bright wing and tail patches. The redstart is not unknown in some parts of the West, but it is essentially a bird of the Eastern States, where it is a common inhabitant of open woodland districts. While it builds a rather neat and compact structure of strips of bark, plant fibers, and the like, placing it in a sapling not far from the ground, the nest is not the thing of beauty one might be led to expect from such a fairy-like creature. Ornamental as the redstart is, it possesses other claims on our gratitude, for it is a most active and untiring hunter of insects, such as spittle insects, tree-hoppers, and leaf-hoppers, and both orchard and forest trees are benefited by the unceasing warfare it wages.

(See Biol. Surv. Bull. 17, p. 20 et seq.)

Source: Henry W. Henshaw (April 1917), “Friends of Our Forests”, The National Geographic Magazine 31(4): 307. (Illustration from p. 309.)