About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dark gray bird with a yellow feathers on tail

I had a neat new visit the feeder at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI recently. She looked similar to a winter American Goldfinch at first glance. But then ta da! A flash of the tail like a lady opening a fan and you see the tail feathers form a pattern of two bright yellow spots.

That made identification a little bit easier. A quick flip through the Birds of Michigan field guide reveals that she is a female American Redstart. The fast movements and fanning of the tail is thought to flush bugs from the leaves so they can eat them, but it was quite a good show for me to watch too.
Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Females and young males are gray-olive with yellow patches on each wing, on the sides of its breast, and at the base of its tail on either side. The males are black where the female is gray and orange where the female is yellow.

They like shrubby woodland edges often near water. But you can see them pass through your yard May when they migrate to southern Canada and the eastern USA to nest and then again in early October as they migrate to their winter home in Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America.

Their supercharged pursuit of insects in the trees and flashing wing and tail patches give the birds the nickname “candelita” or “little candle” in their Central American wintering grounds.

Related Articles:
- Warblers in Michigan http://goo.gl/3WJHO3
- Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/oW0XCD
- Tennessee Warblers http://bit.ly/pzq7qn
- Are Goldfinches here in the winter? http://bit.ly/nF449Y

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