Moussier’s Redstarts

The Moussier’s Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae).

It is an endemic resident breeder in the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa. Its habitat is open woodland in rocky areas up to 3000 m altitude in the mountains. Its nest is built in a bush or on the ground and the clutch is typically 3-6 eggs.

The 13cm male Moussier’s Redstart has a black head with a broad white stripe running above each eye and down the side of the neck. The upperparts are black other than a white wing patch, and the rich chestnut tail, from which it and other redstarts get their names (start is an old word for tail). The underparts are a rich orange-red.

The smaller, shorter-tailed female has a pale brown head and upperparts, and the underparts are a paler orange than the male, although generally redder than the underparts of the similar but slightly larger female Common Redstart.

The male’s song is a mixture of rasping sounds and svee-svee notes. The call is a plaintive single note, heeh.

The Redstart feeds like a flycatcher, making aerial sallies after passing insects.

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