IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Plumbeous water redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosus)

The plumbeous water redstart is a perching bird in the family Muscicapidae. It lives near fast-moving streams and rivers in South Asia, Southeast Asia and China.

It is typically 14 cm long in total,[3] with an average weight of 22 g for males and 18.8 g (0.66 oz) for females [4]. The male is slate blue in colour with a rusty red tail, while females are lead grey, hence 'plumbeous,' with a white rump [3,5,6]. The plumbeous water redstart lives in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam [7,8]. Its preferred habitats are streams [7], nullahs[6] and rivers[9] with boulders that are shaded [10], as well as vegetation near riverbanks [7]. It seems to prefer streams with higher populations of insects such as mayflies [11]. It typically lives at relatively high elevations, with birds in the Himalayas at 2,000-4,100 m [7]. It tends to descend to lower altitudes in winter [7].

The redstart is very protective of its habitat[14] and is very confrontational to any trespasser on its territory [5]. To catch flies in rivers, it flies vertically until it is at least 6.1 m above the water, before gliding down in a spiral back to the same place.[9]

The redstart has been placed on the Least Concern category of the IUCN Red List, as the population has stayed stable throughout the last ten years. Its distribution range is over 5,100,000 square km [13]. The species is described as common in northern Pakistan and India and scarce to locally common in south-east Asia (1), while national population sizes have been estimated at c.100-100,000 breeding pairs in China and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Taiwan (12).

There are two recognized subspecies – R.f. fuliginosa and R.f. affinis. The former was described by Nicholas Aylward Vigors in 1831, the latter was described by William Robert Ogilvie-Grant in 1906 and is found in Taiwan [2]. In China, the female and first-year male redstarts appear more brown at the top, leading to the possibility of classifying them as a separate race tenuirostris [2].

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