Common Redstarts breed from northwest Africa and western Europe east to Lake Baikal, and from Asia Minor and the Caucasus to Iran. Most winter in sub-Saharan Africa north of the equator and in parts of Arabia, though a few remain north of the Sahara around the western Mediterranean.
    In Britain they are most numerous in upland areas of Scotland and Wales, and northern and southwest England. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded that the distribution of the species in Britain had decreased by 31% since the publication of the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas, most of the decline occurring in the English lowlands, and in Scotland through the Central Belt and on the northern and western fringes. Drought in the Sahel between 1968 and 1973 caused high mortality among migrants returning to Europe. Surveys carried out by the RSPB revealed marked population declines throughout the period from the mid 1980s to 2003-2004, including a 51% fall in tne numbers in Wales.
    In Wiltshire numbers of Common Redstarts fluctuate from year to year, mainly because the county lies on the eastern fringe of the species' main breeding range so that minor changes in national numbers are reflected in higher than average changes locally. Late 19th century reports remarked that Common Redstarts were much scarcer than thet had been a few years previously. A 1929 report again described them as scarce and much decreased in numbers, whereas in 1939 they were found to be pretty common in at least one of their usual sites. The same up and down pattern continued after the 1939-45 War. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 60 tetrads, with breeding in 15. WTA2 recorded them in 74 tetrads, though with breeding in only 12.


The following references are used throughout these species’ accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007: Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011”-– Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland. BTO Books. 
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.