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Black Redstart Query (1 Viewer)


Senior Moment
I've just had five-minute's-worth of a new garden tick: a female/immature Black Redstart. At least, I'm 99% sure that's what it was, but it didn't half look odd. The trouble was that the bird was brown - a shade paler than the brown variant female/imm in the Collins field guide. If it was a Black Redstart it was certainly the palest and brownest I have ever seen. Am I going doolally? Have I cocked it up?


Whole body including head very uniform brown (colour of pale, wet mud). No contrast in the ear coverts. However, on close inspection, underparts from chin to vent just a mere fraction paler than head and mantle, though not enough to cause any contrast. No hint of orange on the underparts at all. Overall impression was of smokey brown, not smokey grey (in fact, no obvious grey tones at all). The only feature that stood out on the body was a thin white eye-ring.

Remiges and wing coverts darker brown, with very thin whitish tertial fringes which produced a noticeable, though faint, wing flash.

Tail and lower back orange, except for dark central feathers.

Legs dark (dark grey?)

Bill black.

Behaviour: Chat-like watch and pounce; also flycatching with warbler-like agility. Sometimes shivered tail; also bobbed body when standing horizontally.

Edit: The painting in the Collins guide of the female Güldenstädt's Redstart actually gives a very good impession of the colour and plumage pattern of the bird I've just seen. However, the bird didn't strike me as dumpy or big enough to be this species. (Unfortunately!)
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Hello Jason

No you are not doolally whatever theat quaint expression means. The bird you describe sounds as if is a Balck redstart but could the light have made the bird appear coloured differntly?

Don't know what else it could have been?


Senior Moment
Thanks, retrobirder. No, I'm absolutely certain about the colours. It's dull and overcast here at the moment, but the light is good - excellent for viewing subtle plumage tones - and the bird was reasonably close (ranges of about 20-40ft).


Well-known member
Hi Jason,

It sounds fine to me, I have had a lot of them passing through the garden the last few weeks and the do seem to vary quite a bit.



Senior Moment
It's come back. Funny how quickly the memory begins to play tricks, isn't it? Close views now show it to be a bit greyer than the impression I gave above - much closer to the grey bits in Joern's bird. At any distance, though, the grey just disappears and it looks brown.

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