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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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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.
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