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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

American Redstart -- Setophaga ruticilla

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Alaska, east to Labrador and Newfoundland south to Utah, southeastern Oklahoma, and east Texas to South Carolina. Absent as a breeding bird through most of the Great Plains region. Winters from Baja California, southern Texas, and central Florida south to Brazil.

STATUS: Abundant.

HABITAT: Prefers open deciduous woodlands with a good understory of shrubs and young trees but is very adaptable. Frequently nests in mixed coniferous-deciduous forests, shade trees and shrubbery around farms, orchards, and willow and alder thickets bordering ponds and streams.

NEST: Normally builds its nest 10 to 20 feet above the ground in a crotch or on a horizontal limb of a second-growth deciduous tree. Frequently parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds when nesting outside of woodlands.

FOOD: Chiefly eats insects caught in the air or gleaned from leaves and branches. Also eats some spiders, daddy longlegs, and fruits.

REFERENCES: Baker 1944, Griscom and Sprunt 1979, Vickery in Farrand 1983c.

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