|Adult male P. auroreus|
Description and systematics
Like all typical redstarts, they are strongly sexually dimorphic. Breeding males have a grey crown and nape with lighter forehead and crown-sides, a black face and chin, brownish mantle and wings and a large white wing patch; the chest, lower back and rump are orange, and the tail is black with orange sides. Juvenile males are similarly patterned but much duller and less clearly marked.
Females are warm brown above, paler below, have an orange rump and tail sides, and have a large white wing patch similar to the males. Bill, eye, legs and feet are black in both sexes.
It was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae). This species is divided into two subspecies, the eastern P. a. auroreus and the western P. a. leucopterus.
It belongs to a close-knit Eurasian clade which also includes the black redstart (P. ochruros), Hodgson's redstart (P. hodgsoni), the white-winged redstart (P. erythrogastrus) – which may be especially closely related to P. auroreus –, and maybe the Ala Shan redstart (P. alaschanicus). These all diverged during the latter part of the Late Pliocene and the earliest Early Pleistocene, some 3-1.5 million years ago, during onset of the Quaternary glaciation.
Distribution and ecology
It is a fairly common bird in East Asia, ranging eastwards from Mongolia and the Himalayas. It is migratory; P. a. auroreus winters in Korea, Japan, southeast coastal China and Taiwan, and P. a. leucopterus in northern India and parts of Southeast Asia.
Daurian redstarts favour open forests, forest edges, agricultural margins, and are also commonly found in parks and urban gardens. They are reasonably confiding and often allow humans to approach quite closely before moving off. It breeds in the summer months, with a mated pair of the nominate subspecies having been encountered in early May.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phoenicurus auroreus.|
- Bangs, Outram (1932): Birds of western China obtained by the Kelley-Roosevelts expedition. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 18(11): 343-379. Fulltext at the Internet Archive
- Brazil, Mark (2009): The Birds of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Russia. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-13926-1
- Ertan, Kemal Topaç (2006): The evolutionary history of Eurasian redstarts, Phoenicurus. Acta Zoologica Sinica 52(Supplement): 310–313. PDF fulltext