Common, but localized, a Painted Redstart is a beautiful bird to find in the wild.
(Click any picture to enlarge)
Look for them in the border states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas because they barely make it to the United States from the Neotropics. They prefer a mountain habitat at cooler elevations. I wasn’t looking for this one, but I appreciate the serendipity of being found.
I was hiking on Mt. Wrightson in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona.
When I stopped to rest, this Redstart flew in. Whether or not he noticed me or was aware and unconcerned, he began to search for insects along the oak and sycamore lined canyon walls.
Redstarts likely got their name from the hunting technique of startling their prey. By rapidly flicking open their wings to produce a brilliant flash of white light, they startle insects into revealing themselves.
Insects can hide anywhere…branches, leaves, crevices...redstarts must be nimble.
Flashing white wings and tail feathers makes them easy to spot when flitting through trees. A bright red breast contrasting against a black body gives them away, too.
But, I was lucky. I didn't have to search for this one. This one found me.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds