False-start Redstart

Adrenaline pumping, I quickly traversed down the steep and narrow trail back to my rental car. After patrolling the “stake-out” area for three hours, I was certain I had just captured an image of the distant target bird. As I examined the photo in the shade of the front seat, my heart sank. There was white in the wings. Ugh. I had seen the common Painted Redstart rather than the code 4 rarity…Slate-throated Redstart.

Painted Redstart (male)….note white in wing

I had traveled to SE Arizona for an encounter with this Mexican specialty. It had been seen daily but sporadically for a couple of weeks. I re-read the recent e-bird postings describing the habits of this small warbler and headed back up the ravine. Sunset was my only deadline.

I sat at the end of the 200 yard trail by a little waterfall and waited. Within minutes two birds caught my eye as they darted among the conifers and oak trees, mimicking each other’s moves. I had a good look at the lead bird….male Painted Redstart again. Prior birders had mentioned that the male Painted and the female Slate-throated appeared to be exhibiting courtship behavior. This pair continued their coordinated but randomly-patterned flight dance. I struggled to focus my binoculars on the second bird. Finally they took a break and perched in a viewable spot 20 yards away. I had my SLATE-THROATED REDSTART!

Slate-throated Redstart (code 4), Pinery Canyon, AZ

Slate-throated Redstart (female)….fanning tail in courtship ritual

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to False-start Redstart

  1. Jeffrey Dingle says:


    Sent from myPhone


  2. Jeff Day says:

    Congratulations, George, and well done! Jeff

  3. Jeff Day says:

    Way to go, George!

  4. John Cox says:

    Well earned rewards for persistence – great photos!

  5. burkebiz says:

    Congrats George! ( But man, what an expensive advocation!) KB

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Jay Bennett says:

    Stud puppet

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  7. Dan says:

    GO GW!!!

  8. Jeff Shaw says:

    Great pic of the female fanning her tail!! Always a good read!

  9. Nina Weisbord says:

    My guy!

  10. Larry Rowe says:

    Amazing tenacity

  11. Mace says:

    George–You are a birding machine.

  12. Haden Gerrish says:

    Slate-throated Redstart must be extremely rare because my Sibley Guide has no entry for it! Great job tracking it down.

  13. Julie Foster says:

    Interesting seeing the female fanning her tail. I thought male birds did all the courtship work and displays.

    • I actually just did a little more homework and it appears that the male and female will fan tail even outside of breeding season. Good catch Sis…..glad you’re the pathologist!:)

  14. Scott says:

    Well done–What is your number now ? Scott

  15. Joe Knowles says:

    Great stuff, George — next time, I’m going!

  16. Anne Wood says:

    i think I am in New Guinea with all that fanning – that’s my boy

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