Moussier’s Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) and Andalucía

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Moussier's Redstart
Will we eventually witness this species breeding in Andalucía?

The region’s close proximity to Morocco produces the odd record of birds native to Africa. Unsurprisingly these records are increasing in modern times as a result of climate change. Over the last decade sightings of a particularly beautiful bird, the Moussier’s Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri, have been reported many times. The current autumn has been no exception, sightings have come from far and wide, the latest a male in the city of Malaga. Whilst the male is unmistakable, the female is far less so and might easily be overlooked, so are we witnessing more of these small Redstarts visiting our region?

Moussier's Redstart female
Are female Moussier’s Redstart overlooked?

Back in the day of Jean Moussier (1), an amateur naturalist that gave his name to this species, the distribution range was thought to be confined to the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa. However, in modern times it has now been established they are present throughout Morocco to the eastern mountain region of Libya. Certainly there is evidence they have extended their range to lower altitudes, even occupying gardens in urban areas. Although lacking informative and conclusive evidence, it might well be they are increasing their range.

Moussier's Redstart distribution

Over the last decade Andalucía has seen an increasing number of sightings, not only confined to the autumn. Odd records appear for birds in the winter and there have also been spring records. One particular male was observed singing and present throughout April and May in the Sierra de Grazalema. So should we expect this colourful bird to perhaps take residence in our region? Along with House Bunting I believe it will, Common Bulbul is already here and so we can live in hope.

(1) Note. Jean Moussier (1795 – 1850) was a surgeon in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars.

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