Thursday, 16 December 2010

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Top: Adult male Black Redstart (subspecies P. o. aterrimus) at Italica, Seville, Spain November 2011
Top: Adult female Black Redstart (subspecies P. o. gibraltariensis) at East India Docks, London - December 2010

Local Name (Spain):  Colirrojo tiz√≥n ("Smut Redstart")
Featured Subspecies: Phoenicurus ochruros aterrimus (?) & Phoenicurus ochruros gibraltariensis
Weight: 12-20g
Length: 13-14.5cm
Wingspan: 23-26cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Black Redstart is one of the UKs rarest breeding birds, being less numerous than either osprey's or golden eagles with under a hundred pairs. There is an increase in winter however as birds arrive from the continent. It is also unique however in that of all Britain's rare birds, it actually does best it cities, with population centres being present in London and Birmingham - indeed, the story I have heard is that it first managed to establish itself here as a breeding species after World War 2 and the Blitz, where there were plenty of damaged and destroyed buildings for it to nest in. It favours brownfield sites which produce a similar habitat to the scree slopes on which they originally evolved and so is in danger from urban regeneration.  In contrast, on my visit to Seville in Spain, these were a fairly common species, particularly on old, large buildings such as Seville Cathedral and the Roman Ruins at Italica.

Related Species:

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Phoenicurus 
Subspecies: P. o. aterrimus, P. o. gibraltariensis, P. o. ochruros, P. o. semirufus, P. o. phoenicuroides, P. o. rufiventris, P. o. xerophilus   

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare breeding resident (19-44 pairs) and rare Wintering species (400 birds)
 - Single birds seen at Trevose Head and East India Docks
SPAIN - Scarce and Local Resident
 - SEVILLE 2011 TRIP: Seen regularly in Seville, Italica and El Rocio
 - MADRID 2015 TRIP: A few seen in passing an various locations.
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: A few seen in passing at various locations.

Further Information: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides
BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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