redstart defined in 1930 yearredstart - Redstart;
redstart - Forehead white; head and upper part of back bluish grey; throat black; breast, tail-coverts, and tail, except the two middle feathers, which are brown, bright bay. Female: upper parts grey deeply tinged with red; throat and belly whitish; breast, flanks, and under tail- coverts pale red. Length, five and a quarter inches.
The redstart is found from April to the end of August throughout England and Wales, but is nowhere common; in Scotland and Ireland he is rare. He is, nevertheless, a better-known bird to people in the country districts than some of the migratory songsters which are more abundant. Not, however, on account of his song, which is inferior to most, but partly because he ' affects neighbourhoods,' as Gilbert White says, and partly on account of his pure and prettily contrasted colours - the white forehead, slaty grey upper parts, and chestnut rump and tail. The bright-coloured tail, which he flirts often as he flits before you, quickly attracts the eye. ' Firetail ' is a common name for this bird. Redstart is Saxon for redtail. When seen perched upright and motionless he resembles the robin in figure, but does not seek his food so much on the ground, and in his restless disposition and quick, lively motions, he is like the warblers. A peculiarity of the redstart is his fondness for old walls; he is attracted by them to orchards and gardens, where he is most often seen, although always a shy bird in the presence of man.
Seebohm says: 'As the wheatear is the tenant of the cairns, the rocks, and the ruins of the wilds, in like manner the redstart may be designated a bird of the ruins and the rocks in the lower, warmer, and more cultivated districts. You will find it in orchards and gardens, about old walls, and in the more open woods and shrubberies. Another favourite haunt of the redstart is old crumbling ruins, abbeys, and castles, on whose battlements and still massive walls, ivy-covered and moss-grown, it delights to sit and chant its short and monotonous song.'
The song consists of one short phrase, dropping to a low twitter at the end, which varies in different singers; but the opening note is always a beautiful expressive sound.
The redstart feeds on small beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and grubs, which it picks up in walls, trees, and bushes; and on gnats, flies, and butterflies, captured on the wing after the manner of the flycatcher.
The nest is almost always made m a hole, usually in an old stone wall, but occasionally in a hole in a tree, and sometimes in the cleft formed by two branches. It is loosely built with dry grass and moss, and lined with hair and feathers. The eggs are four to six in number; sometimes as many as eight, or even ten, are laid. They resemble the hedge-sparrow's eggs, being of a uniform greenish blue colour.
The black redstart (Ruticilla titys) is a winter visitor in small numbers to the south-west of England, and has been known to breed on two or three occasions in this country. It is common throughout Central and Southern Europe, wintering in North Africa, and in its nesting and other habits and language resembles the redstart.
Between the redstarts (Ruticilla) and the redbreast (Erithacus), next to be described, the bluethroats (Cyarecula) are placed, of which two species have been recorded as casual visitors to this country - the white-spotted bluethroat (C. Wolfi), from Western Europe; and the red-spotted bluethroat (G. Suecica), a breeder in the arctic regions.
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