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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet - Showing Crest

Laura Meyers

Hyperactively energetic, the ruby-crowned kinglet is a lively forager and a nemesis bird for many birders who hope to see its well-concealed ruby crown. While these birds can be seen across a wide range, a sighting of those few red crest feathers is always special.

Common Name:

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Scientific Name:

Regulus calendula

Appearance:

  • Bill: Short, straight, black
  • Size: 4.25 inches long with 7-inch wingspan, tiny stature
  • Colors: Olive green, buff, white, black, red, yellow
  • Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have overall olive green upperparts and buff underparts. The darker wings have yellowish edging and two white wing bars, though one is often obscured. A thin white eye ring is visible, and a small bright red patch on the crown is often completely concealed. The tail is black but edged with yellow or olive green. Females have the same markings but lack the red crown patch. For both genders, legs are black.

Foods:

Insects, fruit, seeds, sap

Habitat and Migration:

Ruby-crowned kinglets prefer forests and thicket habitats with good cover, and they are frequently found in coniferous or mixed forests. Their summer range covers the boreal region of Canada and into Alaska, extending as far south as the northern edge of the continental United States and into the mountainous west as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. In winter, these birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico, as well as all along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to British Columbia. Small year-round populations can be found along the border between Arizona and New Mexico.

Vocalizations:

The ruby-crowned kinglet calls frequently with a high pitched, frantic whistle or warble that can change tempo. A staccato "chip-chip-chip" is another common call.

Behavior:

These active foragers characteristically flick their wings when feeding, frightening insects and making feeding easier. Ruby-crowned kinglets will forage in mixed flocks with other small birds, including creepers, warblers, titmice and other kinglets, often feeding in near bushes, trees and branches, even hawking insects out of the air. When agitated, males will reveal their red crown in an aggressive stance. These birds are also often curious and will respond to pishing.

Reproduction:

Ruby-crowned kinglets are monogamous birds. The female of a mated pair will incubate the brood of 4-10 eggs for 12-14 days, and both parents will feed the altricial young for an additional 10-15 days. Pairs raise a single brood each year.

Attracting Ruby-Crowned Kinglets:

These active birds aren't afraid of humans and will visit backyards with the proper trees, bushes and other bird-friendly landscaping. Providing bushes with small fruits and avoiding insecticide sprays will also make a yard more attractive to ruby-crowned kinglets.

Similar Birds:

  • Golden-Crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
  • Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni)

Photo – Ruby-Crowned Kinglet – Showing Crest © Laura Meyers
Photo – Ruby-Crowned Kinglet © Michael Woodruff

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