The Black Redstart – A Red Tail Always On Alert

“The Black Redstart – A Red Tail Always On Alert” explores the fascinating life of the black redstart, a bird known for its adaptability and widespread presence in both urban and mountainous areas. Originally nesting in rocky walls, the black redstart has adapted to using man-made buildings as its breeding ground. With its distinctive black plumage and red tail, it is easily recognizable and often seen perched on rooftops, chimneys, and antennas. This resourceful species is particularly intelligent and has become accustomed to the presence of humans. Whether in remote mountain villages or bustling metropolises, the black redstart is a lively and perpetually moving species that adds its melodious song to the morning chorus of birds.


The Black Redstart, scientifically known as Phoenicurus ochuros, is a small passerine bird that is easily recognizable by its black plumage and red tail. It has a distinctive size, weighing between 14 to 19 grams and measuring about 13 to 15 cm in length. The wingspan of the Black Redstart ranges from 23 to 26 cm. The male Black Redstart has a black coloration with a white wing spot, while the female lacks the light part on the wings and appears brown-greyish. The bird is known for its short and unique song, characterized by alternating “tsip” and “tictic” sounds.


During the summer months, the Black Redstart is predominantly found in mountain areas. In Europe, it can be observed at altitudes of up to 2,600 meters in the Alps. However, Asian populations of the Black Redstart, inhabiting the Himalayan region, can be found at altitudes of up to 5,000 meters. Originally, the species inhabited only mountainous regions, but over the years, it has adapted to urban environments and now frequents inhabited areas, such as small towns, suburban centers, and industrial areas. It has even been observed nesting in the highest buildings of bigger towns. The Black Redstart has a wide range of presence, including Europe, Asia Minor, Tibet, and parts of China.


The diet of the Black Redstart consists primarily of berries, invertebrates, and insects. It feeds on various types of berries, insects caught in flight (especially flies and butterflies), and small crustaceans in coastal areas. This diverse diet allows the bird to find sustenance in both mountainous and urban environments.


The breeding season for the Black Redstart occurs in May. During this time, the bird builds its nest in rock crevices in mountainous areas or in cracks and cornices of city buildings. In rare cases, it may also utilize large trunk cavities. The nest is cup-shaped and constructed using dried herbs, roots, feathers, and moss. The female Black Redstart lays an average of 4 to 7 smooth and shiny white eggs. Both parents play active roles in caring for the eggs and chicks. The incubation period typically lasts about two weeks, and the chicks leave the nest approximately one month after hatching.


The Black Redstart is classified as a protected species within the European Union. It is considered to be a stable breeding population with favorable health at the continental level. From 1970 to 1990 and the subsequent decade, the breeding population of the bird in the European Union remained stable, estimated at 2,600,000 to 5,900,000 pairs. The continental breeding population ranges from 4 million to 8,800,000 pairs. While southern European Black Redstart specimens are sedentary, colonies in northern regions are migratory. However, there are fluctuations in the population at local levels, requiring attention to areas threatened by environmental alterations, such as mountainous regions and areas affected by the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral practices. These changes could potentially impact the species’ range of presence in the future.

Introduction to the Article

The Black Redstart, Phoenicurus ochuros, is a fascinating bird with a wide range of adaptability and resourcefulness. Originally, it was found primarily in rocky areas, but due to urbanization and the expansion of cities, it has successfully spread to the plains and even into urban environments. This article will provide comprehensive information on various aspects of the Black Redstart, including its appearance, distribution, diet, breeding habits, conservation status, and more.

Quick Facts

  • Scientific Name: Phoenicurus ochuros
  • Weight: 14 – 19 grams
  • Length: 13 – 15 cm
  • Wingspan: 23 – 26 cm
  • Age: Up to 10 years
  • Diet: Bugs, insects, small crustaceans
  • Habitat: Urban areas, mountains
  • Threats: Expansion of wooded areas

Observing the Black Redstart

Observing the Black Redstart does not require expert hiking skills or extensive walks in the mountains. The bird is fairly accessible and can be easily spotted in various alpine regions. It is a lively and constantly moving species that has become accustomed to human presence. However, it may flee if approached too closely or suddenly. The Black Redstart is known for being one of the first birds to sing at dawn, sometimes even before sunrise.

Aspect of the Black Redstart

The Black Redstart is a small bird, weighing less than 20 grams, with a distinctive wingspan of 23 to 26 cm. It is recognized by its black plumage and red tail. The male Black Redstart has additional white wing spots, while the female lacks this feature and appears brown-greyish. Its short song is unique, characterized by alternating “tsip” and “tictic” sounds. These aspects make the Black Redstart easily distinguishable and a delight to observe.

Conservation Status of the Black Redstart

The Black Redstart is considered a protected species within the European Union. It is classified as a safe species, with a stable breeding population. The overall health of the Black Redstart population is favorable at the continental level. While there are no significant threats that could undermine its conservation status, environmental alterations, such as the expansion of wooded areas and the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral practices, pose potential risks.

In conclusion, the Black Redstart is a remarkable bird that has adapted and thrived in both natural and urban environments. Its striking appearance, unique song, and resourceful nature make it a fascinating subject for observation. The species’ wide distribution, diverse diet, and successful breeding habits contribute to its stable population. However, continued efforts must be made to protect its habitat from environmental changes and ensure the long-term conservation of this delightful bird.

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