Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Regulus satrapa

One of our tiniest birds, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is remarkable in its ability to survive in cold climates. Nesting in northern forest, wintering throughout much of the continent, it is usually in dense conifers which undoubtedly help provide shelter from the cold. This choice of habitat also makes the Golden-crown hard to see, but it may be detected by its high thin callnotes, and then glimpsed as it flits about high in the spruce trees.
Conservation status Populations may drop after very harsh cold seasons on wintering grounds. Long-term numbers seem healthy. Has expanded breeding range into some new areas in northeast, nesting in planted conifers.
Family Kinglets
Habitat Mostly conifers; in winter, sometimes other trees. Breeds in dense coniferous forest, especially those of spruce, fir, and hemlock, less often in Douglas-fir or pines. In migration and winter may be found in deciduous trees, but tends to seek out conifers even then, including pine groves and exotic conifers planted in cemeteries and parks.
One of our tiniest birds, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is remarkable in its ability to survive in cold climates. Nesting in northern forest, wintering throughout much of the continent, it is usually in dense conifers which undoubtedly help provide shelter from the cold. This choice of habitat also makes the Golden-crown hard to see, but it may be detected by its high thin callnotes, and then glimpsed as it flits about high in the spruce trees.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • adult male, crest raised
Feeding Behavior

Forages very actively in trees and shrubs, mainly in conifers. Hops among branches, often hanging upside down from tips of twigs. Occasionally hovers to glean an insect from foliage or bark; rarely flies out to catch an insect in mid-air. Compared to Ruby-crowned Kinglet, does less hovering and flycatching, more hanging upside down.


Eggs

8-9, sometimes 5-11. A surprising number of eggs for small size of bird, often arranged in 2 layers in nest. Eggs whitish to pale buff, with brown and gray spots often concentrated toward larger end. Incubation by female only, about 14-15 days. Male may feed female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-19 days after hatching.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-19 days after hatching.

Diet

Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of tiny insects, including small beetles, gnats, caterpillars, scale insects, aphids, and many others. Also eats spiders. Diet includes many eggs of insects and spiders. Will feed on oozing sap; rarely feeds on fruit.


Nesting

Male defends nesting territory by singing. In aggressive encounters with other males, he may lean far forward and down with crown feathers raised, wings and tail flicking while he sings. Nest: Placed in spruce or other conifer, 6-60' up but usually high, averaging about 50' above the ground. Nest is attached to hanging twigs below a horizontal branch, close to trunk, well protected by foliage above. Female builds deep hanging cup of moss, lichens, bark strips, spiderwebs, twigs, leaves, lined with feathers, plant down, rootlets, other soft materials.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Generally migrates late in fall and early in spring. Some on northern Pacific Coast are probably permanent residents.

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Migration

Generally migrates late in fall and early in spring. Some on northern Pacific Coast are probably permanent residents.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Thin, wiry, ascending ti-ti-ti, followed by tumbling chatter.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Kinglets Perching Birds

Golden-crowned Kinglet

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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