What’s interesting about American redstarts?
September 16, 2019 12:28 PM   Subscribe

They’re very pretty. But that’s not all. They’re a great example of how much scientists have learned about birds and how many questions remain unanswered. There’s a lot of information in the chemical composition and color of those pretty feathers. Their bright wing and tail patterns seem to be useful for startling and flushing insects. Studies in other species indicate it’s an effective technique. First-year males have coloration more like females. Why? Maybe to cut down on attacks from older males. Or maybe not. Like most birds, redstarts are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, with about 40% of nestlings fathered by a bird outside the pair. Why do birds want multiple partners? A lot of thought and research has gone into answering that question.
posted by Redstart (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The Painted Redstart, that you can see in Arizona, is cool too.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

That secret sex life of birds article is fascinating: Most male birds have no penis! Some of them have testicles that are 3% of their body weight! Parrots mate for half an hour!
posted by jessamyn at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

What a neat collection. Thanks for the redstart information, Redstart!
posted by readinghippo at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2019

Very cool, I didn't realize how much birds get around. And I didn't realize the coloration is maybe for hunting as well as social reasons.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:53 PM on September 16, 2019

Once you see it, you can't unsee it: your Redstart is our Roodstaart ("red tail").
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:52 AM on September 17, 2019

Yes, the American Redstart is presumably named after the Common Redstart and its relatives, which are a really gorgeous group of Old World birds which are not closely related to the American species.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:28 AM on September 17, 2019

But everyone’s favourite bit of bird etymology is that the wheatear was originally called ‘white arse’.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:37 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

So that's why my daypack model is called a "Redstart". TIL.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:44 AM on September 17, 2019

Today I learned what TIL stands for.
posted by Redstart at 6:34 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Post Your Animal month has been the best. Thanks for this post!
posted by mixedmetaphors at 8:24 AM on September 17, 2019

This North American bird identification tool found within the first link is pretty handy.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:34 PM on September 17, 2019

Yes! The "Post your animal" theme is so good! I am learning so much about different animals.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 6:11 AM on September 18, 2019

When I first saw the headline I thought it said 'What's interesting about American residents?'

Sorry for the derail. Please carry on.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:21 AM on September 19, 2019

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