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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Painted Redstart

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate threats facing the Painted Redstart

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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