Blue-capped Redstart

In China, Blue-capped Redstart Phoenicurus coeruleocephala occurs in Tianshan in Xinjiang. Breeds from 2400-4300 m (7,870-14,110 ft.), generally in dryer, more sparsely vegetated country than Eversmann’s Redstart P. erythronotus. In winter remains in region, descending to 1200 m (3,940 ft.). Male only Phoenicurus lacking rufous pigmentation, being bluish-grey from crown to nape (browner in first-winter and non-breeding), shading to black on mantle. Rest of upperparts black except for bold white bar extending across wing coverts to tertials. Tail black. Face to breast black, contrasting with otherwise white underparts. Black parts fringed whitish (mainly face and breast) to buff-brown (upperparts) in winter. Female patterned similarly to female Eversmann’s, having whitish eye-ring and chestnut rump, uppertail coverts, and base of outer tail and two buffish-white wingbars and edges to tertials, but is slightly smaller and greyer-brown and has brownish tail (almost lacking rufous). Juvenile like female but darker and scaled/spotted, male showing broad white edges to tertials. BARE PARTS Bill, feet black. VOICE Clicking tik-tik call recalls European Robin; also dry, harsh rattle; lively, unmusical, ringing song, mostly on two different pitches, recalls Rock Bunting. — Craig Brelsford

THE TRUE REDSTARTS OF CHINA covers all 12 members of Phoenicurus in China. Click any link below:

Przevalski’s Redstart Phoenicurus alaschanicus
Eversmann’s Redstart P. erythronotus
Blue-capped Redstart P. coeruleocephala
Black Redstart P. ochruros
Common Redstart P. phoenicurus
Hodgson’s Redstart P. hodgsoni
White-throated Redstart P. schisticeps
Daurian Redstart P. auroreus
Güldenstädt’s Redstart P. erythrogastrus
Blue-fronted Redstart P. frontalis
Plumbeous Water Redstart P. fuliginosus
White-capped Redstart P. leucocephalus


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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