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|Physical description : |
Black Redstart adult has dark greyish or blackish plumage. Rump, vent and tail are orange-red, very conspicuous in flight, or when tail is fanned. We can see sometimes a whitish wing panel.
Underparts are black or greyish black. Breast is darker than belly. Crown and nape are greyish black. Forehead and face are black.
Pointed bill, eyes, legs and feet are black.
Female is duller, with uniform smoky grey-brown plumage. Greyish breast is slightly streaked with darker.
Juvenile is slightly mottled with browner plumage than female.
First year is very similar to female. First spring male lacks pale wing panel. Many young males resemble female until second autumn.
We have some subspecies, according to variations in white wing panel and red-orange on lower underparts of males.
P o. semifurus, from Middle East, has red-orange underparts and black breast.
P o. aterrimus, from Spain and Portugal, has black breast and upper belly, and greyish to white vent.
P o. gibraltariensis has greyish belly and white wing panel.
Voice :Black Redstart's common calls are a rapid "tic-tic-tic", a short "tac", and a sharp "tsip".
Song is a rapid warbling, interrupted by a nasal crackling, such a crumpled paper, and a kind of "tia-tia" at the end.
Habitat : Black Redstart lives in rocky hilly or mountainous areas, towns and villages. We can find it at up to 2500 metres of elevation. It has adapted to live in industrial and urban centres, and may nest in railway stations, factories, buildings, quarries and cliffs.
GEOGRAPHIC RANGE: Black Redstart breeds in South and Central Europe, very localized in Great Britain. It is resident in most of its range, but northern birds winter in southern Europe and North Africa.
Behaviour : Perched on the roof, it utters its song strongly, fluffing its breast feathers, with the head backwards in the last phrase of its song. Farther, another bird responds immediately.
Black redstart sings from a high perch, above the city noise and early in the morning. It often perches on exposed places, standing up and moving its tail nervously. It looks at the ground where it often alights to catch insects, but it also catches flying insects. It runs and hops on the ground. It may stand motionless during several minutes, perched on a roof or other pole, singing. In trees, it prefers lower branches. It is a terrestrial bird.
During breeding season, Black Redstart sings continuously, and more and more when spring is coming. Birds perform some dances before copulation. They are monogamous the most of time, but some males may have two females.
Black Redstart is often moving. When alarmed or excited, it gives brief sharp calls while crouching and flickering its tail. It chases away from its territory even the birds of its own species.
Flight : Black Redstart has fast and strong flight. It may hover in front of a vertical wall to catch some insects or larvae.
Reproduction-nesting : Black Redstart's nest is often located in holes, cavities, crevices, in industrial centres, in all parts where it can find a small place to build its nest. Female builds the loose nest, with dry grasses and leaves at base (in urban areas) and with mosses (in rocks and cliffs). Nest is lined with hair and feathers.
Female lays 4 to 6 glossy white eggs. Incubation lasts about 13 days, by female alone. Both parents feed the altricial chicks with insects and caterpillars. At hatching, chicks are covered with sparse dark grey down on head and back.
Young fledge between 12 and 18 to 20 days after hatching, according to the weather and disturbances. They remain hidden on the ground, before their first flight, at about 32 to 35 days of age.
This species produces two broods per season, sometimes three, in the same place each year, but they build a new nest.
Food habits : Black Redstart feeds mainly on insects and their larvae. On the beaches, they eat a good quantity of tiny crustaceans. In late summer and in autumn, they also consume fruits and berries.
Protection / threats : Black Redstart is widespread and relatively common in its range. It is locally spread in Britain, breeding on cliffs along the south coasts, and concentrated in urban environment and industrial areas.
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