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Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus Scientific name definitions

William D. Harrod and Ronald L. Mumme
Version: 2.0 — Published July 29, 2022
Revision Notes

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Introduction

Slate-throated Redstart, also known as Slate-throated Whitestart, is the most widespread species in the genus Myioborus. Its range extends from the mountains of northern Mexico, through most of Central America, northern South America, and south through the Andes to central Bolivia. Its habitat consists of pine-oak montane and submontane forests in Mexico and northern Central America, and humid montane forest to the south. In the tropics, Slate-throated Redstart prefers forest edges and treefall gaps in primary forest and appears to be highly adaptable to human disturbance.

The most conspicuous feature of Slate-throated Redstart is its animated flush-pursuit foraging behavior. When searching for insect prey, it droops its wings and pivots from side-to-side with an erect spread tail that dramatically displays the white patches on the outer tail feathers. These animated displays of the contrasting black-and-white tails startle flying insects, which are then attacked and captured in frequently intricate and acrobatic aerial pursuit flights. Slate-throated Redstart has numerous morphological adaptations — including a long tail, short broad wings, large eyes, and long rictal bristles at the base of the bill — that increase maneuverability and facilitate capture of flying prey. Its diet consists primarily of winged insects, especially flies, treehoppers, and moths (1).

Twelve subspecies of Slate-throated Redstart are recognized, with significant plumage variation existing between subspecies in both color of the underparts and in the extent of white in the outer tail feathers. The color of the breast and belly changes from vivid vermilion red for birds in northern and central Mexico to red-orange, orange, and yellow-orange in Central America, and to yellow in South America. Geographic variation in the pattern of white in the tail is also substantial, and this variation appears to be adaptive; experimental evidence from Costa Rica suggests that the extent of white in the tail has been fine-tuned by natural selection to optimize flush-pursuit foraging performance at its particular geographic location (2, 3).

Distribution of the Slate-throated Redstart - Range Map
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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Slate-throated Redstart

Recommended Citation

Harrod, W. D. and R. L. Mumme (2022). Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sltred.02