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Golden-crowned Kinglet


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Golden-crowned Kinglets are boldly marked with a black eyebrow stripe and flashy lemon-yellow crest. A good look can require some patience, as they spend much of their time high up in dense spruce or fir foliage. To find them, listen for their high, thin call notes and song. Though barely larger than a hummingbird, this frenetically active bird can survive –40 degree nights, sometimes huddling together for warmth. They breed in the far north and montane west and visit most of North America during winter.


Golden-crowned Kinglets sing an ascending, accelerating series of up to 14 very high-pitched tsee notes lasting up to 3 seconds and sometimes ending in a musical warble that drops an octave or more in pitch. This is one of the first bird songs that people stop being able to hear as they age. Both males and females sing while constructing the nest, when other songbirds approach, and when predators are nearby, and males sing to proclaim their territory.


Both males and females give thin, threadlike tsee notes, often two or three in a row, to contact each other.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Search for Golden-crowned Kinglets in dense stands of spruce and fir during summer—or, if you live south of their breeding range, look for them in winter, when they may be in shrubs or deciduous trees. They’re tiny, hard to see birds that spend much of their time among dense needles, often high in the tree. So use your ears and listen for the high, tinkling song of males and especially the high, thin call notes, frequently given while foraging. Once you’ve heard your target, look for movement high in conifers and be prepared for quick views. If you want to attract a kinglet closer for a better look, try making a pishing sound to bring in kinglets along with, possibly, chickadees and warblers.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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