On Jan. 5, Nancy Madden found a Painted Redstart just east of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on the Jackson County Christmas Bird Count. The bird has been seen every day since. I was in Mississippi today for an event at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, and what was I going to do, just drive right past the bird without stopping? Ha.
The famous and spectacular Belle Fontaine Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus), Mississippi’s second record! The only other record for the state is a sight record from Oct. 5, 1987, by Judy Toups and several others.
The bird is spending most of its time in a couple of live oaks within sight of the Gulf of Mexico. (I wonder how many other eBird checklists include both Painted Redstart and Brown Pelican?)
It turns out that the redstart is sticking close to one particular tree because a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is maintaining a series of sap wells in some of the limbs (note small holes visible here). The redstart is feeding from the wells.
It is also catching insects frequently (this fly, for example). Perhaps the sap wells are attracting more insects? In any case, it seems to be a pretty good deal for the redstart.
The bird’s genus name, Myioborus, means fly-devourer.
Marsha Kazal, who led us to the bird today, points up to the redstart tree. I wondered how many other Painted Redstarts in history had been seen by observers in heels — not the usual attire for reaching their montane homes!
My buddy Moz was entertained by my multitasking. Photo © Mozart Mark Dedeaux
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