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Red-flanked Bluetail - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Bluestart, Orange-flanked Bush Robin

Adult male
Photo by fkm
Hong Kong, China, March 2010
Tarsiger cyanurus

Luscinia cyanura


Photo by Neil
Hong Kong, China, December 2010

Length 13–15 cm (5-6 in), wingspan 21-24.5 cm, weight 10-16 g.
Blue tail and orangey-reddish flanks.
Adult males, and some immature males, have dark blue-grey upperparts, orangey-reddish flanks, white throat and upper breast dusky grey underparts, and a pale supercilium, white in front of the eye, pale blue behind.
Females, and also most first-winter males, are plain brown above and have a dusky breast.
Juveniles in the first few weeks after fledging are brown with pale spots, similar to a juvenile Common Redstart except with a bluish, not orange-red tail.


A first year bird
Photo by patricklhoir
Plombières, Belgium, January 2018

Breeds in northeastern Europe and northern Asia from Finland east right across northern Russia to Kamchatka, and southeast in Asia to northern Mongolia, Manchuria in northeastern China, and northern Japan. Winters in southern China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Sumatra and Java.
Increasingly recorded as a vagrant, or perhaps a rare winter visitor, in several western European countries, including several overwintering individuals and spring birds returning northeast. Long a major rarity in Britain, it now occurs annually (mainly on the east coast in October), with a remarkable 31 recorded in 2010.


Himalayan Bluetail was formerly considered a subspecies of this species.

Formerly sometimes included in either the genera Erithacus or Luscinia4.


Clements recognizes two subspecies[1]:

  • "T. c. cyanurus: breeds from Finland and northern Russia to east to Mongolia, northeast China, Korea, and Japan; resident in Japan (except for Hokkaido), otherwise winters to southern China, Taiwan, Indochina, Myanmar, and Thailand
  • "T. c. albocoeruleus: breeds in north central China (northeastern Qinghai, northern Gansu, Shanxi, and Beijing); mostly winters at lower elevations, but some migrating south to Myanmar and northern Thailand

A subspecies T. c. pacifica is generally considered invalid3.


Coniferous forests, typically in damp, mossy old-growth spruce Picea with scattered birch Betula; from sea level to low hills in the north of the range, in mountains in the southeast in Japan. Winters in dense, usually evergreen, forests and scrub.


Often seen flicking wings, and frequently quivers its tail in the same manner as redstarts.


It nests near the ground, laying 3-5 eggs which are incubated by the female.


Song: itru-churr-tre-tre-tru-trurr which is somewhat reminiscent of Common Redstart


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Avibase
  4. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2003. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed., with updates to October 2008 (Corrigenda 8). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691117010
  5. Knox, A.G. et al. 2008. Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: Fifth report. Ibis, 150, 833–835
  6. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  7. Thread discussing the taxonomy of this species

Recommended Citation

External Links

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