The American Redstart | Maple Lake Messenger

The key to “seeing” nature is to stop and look. I know this seems pretty obvious, but it’s true. The simple act of stopping and looking is really all it takes to see more of nature. This is something I learned a long time ago, but it seems I need to stop and remind myself every now and then.

Yesterday, while filming a new nature documentary covering 500 hectares of mixed forest and riparian land, I stopped to survey a very small stream. The creek turned out to look more like a trickle, but as I stood and just took in the sight, I noticed movement right in front of me.

I could tell right away that the tiny, gray bird was an American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). The American redstart is a fairly common species of warbler. Its unique name “redstart” refers to the male’s red markings on the side of the tail. The word “start” is an Old World word for tail. So red-start literally means red tail.

Although the female has the same color pattern as the male, it is yellow, not red. They nest in open forest areas in the eastern half of the country. When I say “they” nest, I mean it’s the female who builds the nest, lays the eggs, and does all the incubation.

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