Bird of the Day: American Redstart building a nest

American Redstart


American Redstart


During the Acadia Birding Festival, I took a morning off to meander by myself along the shore and the road near our hotel. Some movement caught my eye low in the brushy area beside the road. A female American Redstart was busy stripping the long fibers of a dead branch in the thicket.


American Redstart


She had to work plenty hard in order to pull off this long fiber!


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To my delight, I could see her fly immediately to her little cup-like nest that she was working on about 3 feet up from the ground. I never would have noticed it unless I had seen her fly directly to it with her newly acquired fibers!


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She deftly wove her long strips of bark into her nest while she sat in it. The nest was situated within the fork of three branches of the small tree.


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While I spied on her, oblivious to my presence, the American Redstart wriggled deep down into her nest and stretched it out into more of the shape that she wanted.

The American Redstart is a a widespread warbler of least concern, although numbers have dropped dramatically over the last few decades.  The male is black with red patches of color in the same places as the female’s yellow. See for more about the American Redstart. According to this Cornell website,

In deciduous woodlands, American Redstarts are fairly conspicuous compared to other small birds of the leafy canopy and subcanopy. They are seemingly hyperactive, repeatedly dashing through trees and bushes after unseen insects, or prancing along branches, rapidly spreading and closing its black-and-yellow or black-and-orange tail.

The female builds the nest by herself in about 3-7 days. The nest is a tightly woven cup of small fibers, such as birch bark strips, grasses, milkweed seed hairs, animal hairs, feathers, rootlets, leaves, lichens, twigs, mosses, pine needles, and wasp nest paper. The nest measures 2–3 inches across and 2–3 inches high on the outside, with an inner cup about 2 inches across and 1.5 inches deep.

Lauren Shaffer

Lauren Shaffer wrote 146 posts

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  • Dick Hess

    Great adventure and beautiful pictures. Thanks

  • brighamstephen

    Great close-up nesting photos and interesting bird info. Those distinctive tail markings show up well.

    • Lauren Shaffer

      Yes, it was a real treat to be able to spy on this mama bird making her nest!

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