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10 Surprising Facts About the Striking White-faced Redstart Bird

The White-faced Redstart, also known as Myioborus albifacies, is a small bird found in Central and South America. These birds are known for their striking plumage and lively nature, making them a popular bird to observe in the wild.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, and behavior of the White-faced Redstart. Identification:

Field Identification:

White-faced Redstarts are small passerine birds with black and white plumage.

They have a white face and throat, which is juxtaposed with black feathers on their body and wings. The tail is predominantly black with white outer feathers, making it easier to spot when in flight.

One of the most distinguishing features of White-faced Redstarts is their bright orange-red patch on the top of their head, which contrasts sharply with the rest of their plumage. Females have a duller patch of orange, and their overall plumage is browner than males.

Juvenile White-faced Redstarts have a brownish plumage, and their face and throat are not as white.

Similar Species:

It is essential to distinguish the White-faced Redstart from similar-looking species such as the Painted Redstart, which has a similar color pattern.

However, the Painted Redstart has an entirely black face and no white throat. Additionally, Painted Redstarts have white patches on their wings’ bottom, a feature absent in White-faced Redstarts.


White-faced Redstarts have two distinct molts: breeding and non-breeding. During the breeding molt, males develop their striking orange-red patch on the head, while females acquire a brighter plumage.

The non-breeding molt results in duller, less-bright plumage of both sexes. Behavior:

White-faced Redstarts are highly active and are constantly on the move.

They are insectivorous birds and feed on a variety of insects, such as termites, beetles, and flies. When foraging for food, they hop on the ground and on low-hanging branches to catch their prey.

These birds are also known for their singing, which is a series of high-pitched notes and warbles. Their songs are loudest during the breeding season, especially during courtship displays.

Male White-faced Redstarts defend their territories aggressively and will engage in singing competitions with other males. These competitions can sometimes escalate to physical fights, though most conflicts are resolved with vocal exchanges.

In conclusion, the White-faced Redstart is a small but striking bird with beautiful black and white plumage and an orange-red patch on its head. There are some similarities to other species, making it essential to distinguish its features during identification.

These birds possess two distinct molts that alter their colorful plumage. White-faced Redstarts are highly active and will hop around on the ground and low hanging branches to catch their prey.

Their constant singing and energetic behavior make them a treat to behold for any bird watcher or nature enthusiast. Systematics History:

The White-faced Redstart (Myioborus albifacies) belongs to the family Parulidae, which includes New World warblers.

The Parulidae family has experienced frequent taxonomic changes, and the White-faced Redstart has undergone its fair share of revisions. Geographic Variation:

White-faced Redstarts show slight geographic variation in their plumage.

The birds found in Mexico have more extensive areas of black on their faces, while those in Costa Rica and Panama have smaller areas. Furthermore, populations in northern South America have brighter orange-red patches on their heads than those in central South America.


Currently, the White-faced Redstart has five recognized subspecies:

– M. a.

albifacies: Found in the Mexican states of Nuevo Len, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potos, and Hidalgo. – M.

a. dammermani: Found in the mountains of southern Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

– M. a.

frontalis: From the eastern and western cordilleras of Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru. – M.

a. obscurus: Found in southern Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and Argentina.

– M. a.

venezuelensis: Found in the northern Andes of Venezuela and adjacent areas of Colombia. Related Species:

White-faced Redstarts are closely related to other species within the genus Myioborus, such as the Slate-throated Redstart and the Orange-crowned Warbler.

These species have similar plumage but are distinguishable by the colors and patterns on their face, throat, and wings. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The distribution of the White-faced Redstart has changed throughout history.

In the past, they were found in several regions across the southwestern United States, but their range has significantly decreased. Today, their distribution includes Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

The loss of habitat due to human activity and climate change has contributed to the decrease in their range. Deforestation and agricultural development have eradicated critical forest habitats, resulting in population declines and potential local extinctions.

The White-faced Redstart’s distribution has also been impacted by the colonization of new areas due to climate change. In recent years, sightings of White-faced Redstarts have been reported in parts of the United States that were previously outside their range, including Arizona and Texas.

This expansion into new territories could potentially lead to further changes in their distribution and genetic divergence. In conclusion, the White-faced Redstart’s systematics history includes several taxonomic changes and geographic variations.

The species has five recognized subspecies that differ slightly in plumage. White-faced Redstarts are closely related to other species within the genus Myioborus.

The distribution of White-faced Redstarts has changed significantly in the past, with a decrease in range due to human activity and climate change. However, there have been recent sightings outside their traditional range, which could indicate a possible expansion into new areas.

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