Living Bird Magazine
Ruby-crowned KingletRegulus calendula
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Regulidae
A tiny bird seemingly overflowing with energy, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet forages almost frantically through lower branches of shrubs and trees. Its habit of constantly flicking its wings is a key identification clue. Smaller than a warbler or chickadee, this plain green-gray bird has a white eyering and a white bar on the wing. Alas, the male’s brilliant ruby crown patch usually stays hidden—your best chance to see it is to find an excited male singing in spring or summer.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are fast-moving but quiet little birds that you might overlook at first. If you’re scanning roadside bushes or watching a flock of warblers, you might see one dart into view and keep moving through the foliage, almost too fast for you to keep up. Keep an eye out for their characteristic habit of wing-flicking. Don’t rely on seeing this bird’s ruby crown—it’s often kept completely hidden. But do listen for both the male’s loud song (often given during migration as well as in the breeding season) and for the double-noted call, which can be distinctive once you learn it. In much of the U.S., look for this species in the winter or on migration, when they are widespread and quite common. During summer you’ll need to be in northern North America or the western mountains to see them.
- Reyezuelo Rubí (Spanish)
- Roitelet à couronne rubis (French)
This species may come to backyards if food is available. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny bird that lays a very large clutch of eggs—there can be up to 12 in a single nest. Although the eggs themselves weigh only about a fiftieth of an ounce, an entire clutch can weigh as much as the female herself.
- Ruby-crowned Kinglets seem nervous as they flit through the foliage, flicking their wings nearly constantly. Keeping an eye out for this habit can be a useful aid to identifying kinglets.
- Metabolic studies on Ruby-crowned Kinglets suggest that these tiny birds use only about 10 calories (technically, kilocalories) per day.
- The oldest known Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a female, and at least 4 years, 7 months old, when she was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in California in 2007. She had been banded in the same state in 2003.