My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a very small passerine bird found throughout North America. It is a member of the kinglet family. The bird has olive-green plumage with two white wing bars and a white eye-ring. Males have a red crown patch, which is usually concealed. The sexes are identical (apart from the crown), and juveniles are similar in plumage to adults. It is one of the smallest songbirds in North America. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is not closely related to other kinglets, and is put in its own subgenus, Corthylio.

The kinglet is migratory, and its range extends from northwest Canada and Alaska south to Mexico. Its breeding habitat is spruce-fir forests in the northern, mountainous, United States and Canada. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet builds a cup-shaped nest, which may be pensile or placed on a tree branch and is often hidden. It lays up to 12 eggs, and has the largest clutch of any North American passerine for its size. It is mainly insectivorous, but also eats fruits and seeds.

The kinglet usually moves along branches or through foliage with short hops, and flies with bursts of rapid wing beats. It is constantly active, and is easily recognized by its characteristic wing-flicking. Its flight has been described as “swift, jerky, and erratic”.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet’s vocalizations are remarkably loud and complex for its size. Its song can be divided into three main parts: a series of high-pitched notes (zee-zee-zee or tee-tee-tee), two to five low trills (turr or tu), and a repeated three note “galloping” phrase (tee-da-leet, tee-da-leet).

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 and may lay as many as twelve eggs in a clutch.

The recent counting indicates that the Ruby-crowned Kinglet population is on the rise. This is mainly due to discovery of less disturbed territory farther north. This allows more successful breeding.

These birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico. Some birds are permanent residents in the west.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets forage actively in trees or shrubs, mainly eating small insects and spiders, some berries and tree sap. They may hover over a branch while feeding and sometimes fly out to catch insects in flight. The red crest is raised when agitated or in display. Often, they perform a “broken-wing” act to draw predators away from their nest, which they will defend fearlessly, mobbing the intruder which may be a cat, squirrel, or human.

On to my photos:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

This is number 92 in my photo life list, only 258 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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18 responses

  1. It’s so funny that it’s called “ruby crowned” when the color is just this discreet little bit on the top of the head. (Compared to, say, a hummingbird or a woodpecker..) Thx for sharing!

    May 7, 2013 at 5:29 am

    • Well, the males have the ruby crown, and keep it hidden most of the time. When excited or distressed, they will display it in full, but I haven’t managed that shot yet.

      May 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      • Just so you know, I just finished reading this month’s Harper’s and on the back page they have a photo of…wait for it…a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! And the red is barely visible in this shot as well–so don’t despair!!! 🙂

        May 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

      • Thank you Lori! I was to the point where I was going to tell the next person who commented about the lack of a crown “Look, I don’t name the little buggers, I just photograph them!”

        May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

      • LOL!!!

        May 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm

  2. I’m glad Lori pointed out that the ruby crown was small-I can’t see it at all.

    May 7, 2013 at 6:16 am

    • The males display their ruby crown for only very short periods of time when they are excited or distressed, the rest of the time they keep it hidden except for a faint hint of a stripe on their head.

      May 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

  3. I was expecting a grander crown from the bird’s name. Nice pictures.

    May 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    • That does it, next spring I’m going to catch one of the males displaying his red crown no matter what!

      May 8, 2013 at 2:44 am

  4. Love your bird butt shots ! These little ones are super hard to capture, and look at you with a number of images. Great captures jerry.

    May 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    • Thanks, at least you didn’t mention the lack of a crown. 😉

      May 8, 2013 at 2:45 am

  5. Truly amazing catches for these fast little guys. Sounds like they might be a bit foolishly brave against a cat, squirrel or human.
    I noticed that Canon was running a sale on the lens I wanted. Pity it happens to be such bad timing for me. Perhaps they’ll offer it again.

    May 8, 2013 at 12:17 am

    • Thanks. Canon runs the same sales on for a month, then off for a month from the looks of it. The camera store I shop at gave me the sale price even though Canon wasn’t technically running the sale when I actually made the purchase, it pays to ask.

      May 8, 2013 at 2:54 am

      • I did that with the camera purchase, only the camera store matched the sale price at Amazon. It does pay to ask.

        May 8, 2013 at 4:00 am

  6. Just a tiny bit of red isn’t it – great pictures!

    May 8, 2013 at 7:38 am

    • Thank you, yes it is.

      May 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

  7. I didn’t know they also do a broken wing “performance” – interesting!

    May 9, 2013 at 12:01 am

    • Thank you. Many birds will try to distract predators that way.

      May 9, 2013 at 2:38 am