|Painted Redstart in carrotwood tree. Colored pencil by Greg Gillson.|
This is primarily a Mexican warbler of pine-oak forests, reaching the United States in Arizona and western New Mexico, as well as barely reaching west Texas. In winter most birds depart the US, but some remain in SE Arizona, and a few end up in southern California each winter.
The behavior of the bird I saw is apparently typical. It feeds from ground to tree top, but spends most of its time deep within the dense middle canopy where I caught glimpses of white tail edges or the large white wing patches when it flew, or spotted the deep red-orange breast through the green leaves. Fortunately, it sat still a couple of times, even in the open a couple of times. Otherwise, it was constantly on the move with not enough time in one spot for the camera to autofocus before it bounced to the next branch.
|Painted Redstart. Crown Point Park, Mission Bay, California. January 21, 2017. Greg Gillson.|
I was actually surprised how small this bird was. Perhaps the shocking black and red plumage in the field guide next to all the green and yellow warblers made me think it was larger. It was just a bit smaller than a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and shaped like it, with long full tail. Why did I think all redstarts were larger than that?