PAINTED REDSTARTMyioborus pictus

This striking species, once considered closely related to the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), is now part of the genus Myioborus, a group of at least 12 ground-nesting warblers. Most members are resident in Central and South America, although Slate-throated Redstart (M. miniatus) is accidental in south Texas and southeast Arizona (Monroe and Sibley 1993, Am. Ornithol. Union 1998, Rosenberg and Stejskal 1999, Barber et al. 2000, Lockwood and Freeman 2004).

Most of the diet of Painted Redstarts consists of insects and spiders, gleaned from foliage and bark surfaces while perched or hovering or captured in the air or from the surface of water. These redstarts have also been observed feeding on sugar water at feeders, tree sap and in winter, peanut butter at feeders (Barber et al. 2000).

DISTRIBUTION. During the 1987-1992 field work seasons of the TBBA project, atlasers found two confirmed breeding records for Painted Redstarts in latilong 30104, quad F2 in the Davis Mountains. This redstart is also an irregular spring and summer resident in the Chisos Mountains where a nest with eggs was found in 1937 (Oberholser 1974, Lockwood and Freeman 2004). The species also breeds throughout the mountains of Middle America south to Nicaragua, and in the mountains of central and southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico. In winter northern populations move southward (Howell and Webb 1995, Am. Ornithol. Union 1998, Corman 2005).

SEASONAL OCCURRENCE. In Texas Painted Redstarts have been observed in spring migration from March 10 to May 21, and they probably breed from late April through July as they do in Arizona where fall migration begins in late August and early September with most individuals gone by mid-October; migration in Texas is probably similar (Oberholser 1974, Lockwood and Freeman 2004, Corman 2005).


BREEDING HABITAT. In Texas Painted Redstarts breed at about 1800 m (6000 ft; Oberholser 1974). In Arizona most breeding occurs between 1500 and 2300 m (5000-7500 ft). In southeast Arizona breeding evidence for redstarts was also found as low as 1200 m (3900 ft) in smaller, lower and drier mountain ranges. These observations suggest other areas in th Trans-Pecos should be checked for breeding Painted Redstarts. In Arizona 46% of breeding evidence was found in coniferous-deciduous riparian areas with 44% in non-riparian deciduous-coniferous habitats (Corman 2005).

Redstart females usually build their nests on the ground, mostly (85%) on slopes such as canyons or creek banks and often concealed from above by grass clumps, projecting rocks or trees and shrubs. The outside of the open cup is formed of coarse grasses and pine needles and sometimes leaves. This structure is lined with fine grasses and hair. The average outside diameter is 10 cm (4 in), height 6.6 cm (2.6 in), inside diameter 5.1 cm (2 in) and cup depth 3.4 cm (1,4 in; Harrison 1979, Barber et al. 2000).

The female usually lays 3-4 (range 3-7) eggs with brown speckles mainly at the large end. She incubates them for about 13 days and the nestlings leave the nest 13 days after hatching. Only a few pairs raise more than one brood per year. Brood parasitism by Brown-headed (Molothrus ater) or Bronzed (M. aeneus) cowbirds is infrequent (Harrison 1979, Barber et al. 2000).

STATUS. In Texas the Painted Redstart is a rare and irregular breeder with the population in any year probably dependent on conditions in the nearby Sierra del Carmen of Coahuila, Mexico (Lockwood and Freeman 2004). In Arizona the size of the breeding population is probably stable (Corman 2005).  Text by Robert C. Tweit (2007)

PARELiterature cited.

American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Checklist of North American birds, 7th ed. Am, Ornithol. Union, Washington, DC.

Barber, D. R., P. M. Barber and P. G. Jablonski. 2000. Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus). InThe birds of North America, No. 528 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Corman, T. E. 2005. Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus). In Arizona breeding bird atlas. pp. 482-483 (T. E. Corman and C. Wise-Gervais, eds.). University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Harrison, H. H. 1979. A field guide to western birds’ nests. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.
Lockwood, M. W. and B. Freeman. 2004. The TOS handbook of Texas birds. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Monroe, B. L., Jr. and C. G. Sibley. 1993. A world checklist of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Rosenberg, G. H. and D. Stejskal. 1999. Annotated checklist and seasonal bar graphs In Davis and Russell’s Finding birds in southeast Arizona, (TAS publication committee, eds.). Tucson Audubon Society, Tucson.

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