American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

Song: Typically a series of 2-note phrases, high pitched and sibilant. There are two basic song types, accented ending and unaccented ending. Accented ending songs are marked by a terminal note that sweeps rapidly upwards in pitch and then abruptly down (Sherry 1997). The accented ending songs predominate early in the breeding season and are replaced in dominance by unaccented ending songs as the season progresses (Ficken 1963).

Male redstarts have repertoires averaging slightly more than 4 songs per individual (Lemon et al. 1985).

Accented ending songs are usually delivered in repeat mode, that is, given repeatedly and exclusively. Unaccented songs, on the other hand, are usually given in serial mode, in which the rest of the repertoire is given successively, with little or no repetition (Lemon 1985).

American Redstart, Unaccented Serial Mode Song, May 15, 2010. Vernon Marsh, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.

Males sometimes sing muted versions of their songs when near their mate (Ficken 1963).

Redstarts sing from the time of their arrival in the spring until mid July. There is often a reoccurrence of singing in August and early September (Bent 1953).

Females will occasionally sing full renditions of typical songs (Bent 1953).


Bent, A. C. 1953. Life histories of North American wood warblers. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 203.

Ficken, M. S. 1963. Courtship of the American Redstart. Auk 80:307-317.

Lemon, R. E., R. Cotter, R. C. MacNally, and S. Monette. 1985. Song repertoires and song sharing by American Redstarts. Condor 87:457-470.

Sherry, Thomas W. and Richard T. Holmes. 1997. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: doi:10.2173/bna.277