Ruby-crowned Kinglet photo by Doug Greenberg
Take a good look at this photo of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet because, chances are, you will never get this good a look at this bird in the wild but maybe for a split second, and that’s on a good birding day!
You see this tiny bird of North America never sits still! He is constantly flitting about in the trees in search for insects and small spiders and occasionally eating some berries and tree sap. They may hover over a branch while feeding and sometimes fly out to catch insects in flight.
Take another look while you can photo by Walter Ammann
Adults are olive gray on the upperparts with light underparts, a thin black bill and a short tail. A couple of distinguishing marks are the white eye ring, broken across the top, and white wing bars. The adult male has a red patch on his crown, seldom visible other than when he is agitated.
The easiest way to make sure you are looking at the ruby-crowned and not, for instance, Hutton’s Vireo, is their behavior. They are always moving and they have a habit of flipping their wing tips out over their back as they flit about from one branch to another. Another way to identify them is by their song.
Their breeding habitat is coniferous forests across Canada, Alaska, northern New England and the western United States. They nest in a well concealed, hanging cup, suspended from a conifer branch. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny bird but they can lay up to a dozen eggs in a clutch!
During migration they can be found in shrubbery, orchards, second growth and swampy thickets. They can also be found in the oak trees near my house.
I love these little restless birds. If you get a chance to see them, I know you will love them too.