Costa Rican Redstarts

A recent morning trip with friend Larry Waddell to near his home in the little coffee town of Aquiares proved to be highly interesting and provided a long list of sightings that included 14 different flycatchers and 8 different warblers. One of the latter is the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). This is one of three warblers in Costa Rica that bear the name Redstart, but the American Redstart is the only migrant. It is found here in most of the country from late August to May up to around 1500 m elevation.

American Redstart male Aquiares

Male American Redstart in Aquiares, courtesy of Larry Waddell

This male, found by Larry the day before, was my first of this species for the year, but it was soon joined by two others, either females or immatures.

American Redstart female Aquiares

I think this is an immature male American Redstart, yellow not red/orange

Furthermore, when I look at first-year birds in Sibley’s The Sibley Guide to Birds, it seems that I may in the past easily have overlooked or mis-identified very grey individuals.

The two resident Redstarts are both found at middle to high elevations. The Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus) is a bird of middle elevations, found occasionally even as low as 700 m. I can find it rather easily in the higher parts of the village but have not seen it here at home.

Slate-throated redstart (2)

This file photo, courtesy of Karel Straatman, nicely shows this dainty and very pretty bird.

You have to climb a little higher to find the Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus) but there is usually a good reward for those of you with cameras because it responds well to ‘pishing’ sounds and often seems naturally inquisitive. John Beer took the following photo at San Gerardo de Dota in the highlands on the other side of Cartago.

Warbler, Redstart, Collarded San Gerardo de Dota (23)

Collared Redstart peering inquisitively from behind a few leaves

Both resident Redstarts can be found together between 1500 and 2100 m elevation.

I can’t resist adding a final warbler photograph of Larry’s from the Aquiares excursion, this time of a different species and one with which North American birders are very familiar, the Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia):

Black-and-white Warbler Aquiares

Handsome male Black-and-white Warbler



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