Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Painted Redstart

Myioborus pictus

The incredible Painted Redstart, a specialty of the southwestern mountains, is perhaps the most beautiful of the warblers. It almost seems to be consciously showing off as it flits through the oaks, turning this way and that, posturing with its wings and tail partly spread. Unlike most of our northern warblers, females of this species are just as showy as males. Painted Redstarts build their nests on the ground, on steep hillsides in pine-oak woods.
Conservation status Still common in its limited U.S. range. Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat in the tropics.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Oak canyons, pine-oak forests in mountains. Breeds in mixed oak and pine forests and in streamside woods of steep canyons above 5,000'. Prefers to nest under oaks, sycamores, ashes, maples, junipers, and pines. In winter in the tropics, found most often in dry open woodlands of oak and pine.
The incredible Painted Redstart, a specialty of the southwestern mountains, is perhaps the most beautiful of the warblers. It almost seems to be consciously showing off as it flits through the oaks, turning this way and that, posturing with its wings and tail partly spread. Unlike most of our northern warblers, females of this species are just as showy as males. Painted Redstarts build their nests on the ground, on steep hillsides in pine-oak woods.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • juvenile
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages actively at all levels, from ground to treetops. With wings and tail partly spread, hops quickly among branches, searching for insects. Often hovers while taking items from foliage, or darts out to catch insects in flight. May move up and down vertical trunks, clinging to bark. Sometimes joins mixed flocks with other birds, but often forages in pairs or alone.


Eggs

Normally 3-4. Creamy white, with fine spots of brown. Incubation is by female only, 13-14 days. Young: Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest about 9-13 days after hatching. Often 2 broods per year.


Young

Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest about 9-13 days after hatching. Often 2 broods per year.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet not known in detail, but undoubtedly eats mostly insects, including caterpillars, flies, and small beetles. Also comes to hummingbird feeders to drink sugar-water.


Nesting

Males arrive on nesting territories 2-10 days before the females. During courtship, male chases female, and sometimes the pair sing duets together. Some males have more than one mate. Nest site selected by both members of pair. Placed on ground in a shady spot on steep slope, often on walls of narrow canyons, on low cliffs, beneath overhanging banks, or under a small boulder. Usually near a small stream. Nest is hidden in a shallow depression or crevice. Shallow, open cup, constructed by female, made of grass, pine needles, leaves, bark; thinly lined with fine grass and hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Probably permanent resident over most of range, but most of those in our Southwest depart in fall, returning early in spring. A few remain through the winter. Rarely strays far afield, having wandered as far as British Columbia and Massachusetts.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Probably permanent resident over most of range, but most of those in our Southwest depart in fall, returning early in spring. A few remain through the winter. Rarely strays far afield, having wandered as far as British Columbia and Massachusetts.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song is a rich, chanting cheery cheery cheery chew. Call is a cheereo, different from calls of other warblers.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Wood Warblers Perching Birds

Painted Redstart

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
Zoom InOut

Explore Similar Birds