And this year’s poster bird is… the Common Redstart! Look for it in bushes and trees, where it perches very straight and wiggles its ginger tail. In Autumn, the Common Redstarts that nest in Portugal are joined by others coming from the north - all head to Africa for the winter, and many pass through Sagres.
If you search for photos of Common Redstarts, you’ll find many with the typical dark head contrasting with the white forehead which gives it its Portuguese name: “white-foreheaded redstart”. So why did we choose a different photo for the Festival poster? And why the difference?
The dark-headed photos are of adult males, while the poster shot is a young male - and we chose it precisely because in Sagres in Autumn you’re much more likely to see a juvenile male than an adult one. This is because as they gain experience, these birds learn that the best route is via Gibraltar… in Sagres we mostly see the youngsters who don’t yet know better!
Why don’t the Portuguese call it the Common Redstart?
In Portuguese, rabirruivo-comum (‘common redstart’) or simply rabirruivo (‘redstart’) refers to the Black Redstart. The species known as Common Redstart or Redstart in English is called rabirruivo-de-testa-branca (‘white-foreheaded’ redstart).
This apparent discrepancy stems from the fact that in Portugal, unlike the UK, the Black Redstart can be seen all year round, while the Common Redstart only visits in Spring/Summer or passes by during the Fall migration. Furthermore, as the Common Redstart spends most of its time in trees and bushes, it is harder to spot than the Black Redstart, which has adapted to humans and can often be seen in cities.
Photos: Common Redstart, juvenile male - ©Diogo Oliveira; adult male - ©Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)