Black Redstart

A dark bird similar to a robin in size (13-14cm) and shape but very different in colour. The male is distinctive, with a black face and very dark grey body with a rusty-red rump and tail and distinctive white wing-flash in flight. Females are less immediately distinctive with a dull grey-brown body although the same rusty-red rump and tail. This species is very rare with less than 100 breeding pairs in Britain. However, it has adapted to live in urban areas, particularly brown-field sites and although it has not been recorded on the University of Manchester campus in 15 years, it is usually recorded breeding in other parts of Manchester city centre every year.

Scientific name

Phoenicurus ochruros

Did you know..

Black redstarts were first recorded breeding in Britain in 1923, but their population increased greatly in London during and immediately after the Second World war because the bombing created a wealth of potential breeding sites on temporary brownfield land. Although their global population is not threatened, they are one of Britain’s rarest birds.

Similar species

Male Black redstarts are not similar to any other species, but female and juveniles can be confused with Redstarts. The most obvious distinguishing feature is that the breast colour of Black redstarts is very similar to the upper parts, whereas Redstarts have a more distinguishable separation between the upper and under sides, with a buff coloured breast. Redstarts are also much less likely to occur in urban areas.

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