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Cold-Weather Residents: A Bright-Crowned and Active Little Bird.

February 11, 2012

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

This is the conclusion of my Cold-Weather Residents series, and there’s a reason why this particular bird is the last one I’m writing about. This species is one of the harder ones to get a good photo of; it’s also the winter bird that’s come the closest to me in physical proximity. This sounds like a contradiction, but there’s a couple of good reasons for this- this bird moves constantly, and loves thickets!

Earlier this winter, I was walking along the Scioto River treeline in a particular area where I’d seen this bird multiple times in the past.  I was just thinking about this species when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye- I looked and, 6 feet away from me in a thicket, there it was- an individual of the species I was looking for.  I slowly raised my camera as it gleaned for things to eat and then regarded me with a curious look; I started to focus the close shot and of course, the bird flew off a ways.  This happens a lot to bird photographers 🙂

Here’s the closest picture I managed to take of this bird:

This is a Golden-Crowned Kinglet, quite possibly Ohio’s smallest winter resident. This bird probably summered in Canada’s coniferous forests, and is spending its winter in Ohio (I know, not exactly Florida, but it’s less cold than Canada). The first thing you notice about this bird is how small it is- typically 3 to 4 inches in size (not surprisingly their feathers are often puffed up). The next thing you notice is how active this bird is, constantly moving through trees and thickets looking for insects or their eggs.

At first, Golden-Crowned Kinglets appear fairly dull. They have a light breast and an olive back, with a black and yellowish wing and tail. When you look closely, you can see its yellow and black crown above a black and white face mask. Sometimes the crown will be raised when the bird is worked up for whatever reason. This is a delightful splash of color on this little bird, bringing a much-needed brightening of the subdued winter landscape. It has a small black bill, almost like a warbler.

This species is very soft-spoken in winter.  Its call is very soft, a short series of three mild notes sounding somewhat like a whistle in the far distance.

It often travels in mixed feeding flocks with other birds in winter. I typically have seen them alone or in pairs this year. The following bird pictured was actively moving through a tree, typical of its kind.

Kinglets remind me of Chickadees- small and usually on the move. I always enjoy seeing them in the cold weather, though I miss lots of good shots when trying to capture their image.  However, they allow you to get closer to them than many other birds.

In the summer, Golden-Crowned Kinglets are busy parents. They typically raise 2 broods of young; the father will be feeding the first brood while the mother hatches a second brood. Talk about overachievers!

Here are the most recent images I’ve taken of these little birds. They’re fun to see, but they’ll be gone in the spring!

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2012 3:00 pm

    Personally, I think those are very good photos. I know how hard it is to get good closeups, but you managed these very well. 🙂

    • February 14, 2012 5:57 pm

      Thanks Bob! There were so many times where I was centering or focusing a good shot, and the little things fluttered off 🙂

  2. February 11, 2012 3:29 pm

    I LOVE his bright yellow patches! Gorgeous bird. Margie

  3. February 11, 2012 4:14 pm

    Lovely bird, I don’t think I have ever seen one here in W. Pennsylvania. Love the yellow head!

  4. February 11, 2012 4:14 pm

    I get both the ruby-crowned kinglet and the golden-crowned kinglet in our yard and I know how difficult they are to photograph….what a wonderful job you did in capturing this beautiful little bird. Great job and well done!!

  5. Northern Narratives permalink
    February 11, 2012 5:17 pm

    Great photos.

  6. February 11, 2012 5:22 pm

    I’ll second what every one else has said, great photos! I chase those little buggers on a regular basis, and know how hard it is to get any shot of them. They never sit still, and here in Michigan, it is rare to see them in any tree other than evergreens, making it even tougher to land a good photo.

    • February 14, 2012 5:59 pm

      They’re the winter ‘if you’re feeling cocky, get a portrait of one of these’ challenge! 😀

  7. February 11, 2012 5:41 pm

    Great job in seeing and capturing this little beauty!

  8. February 11, 2012 6:07 pm

    I had somehow lost the link to your blog. I ran across it today and I’m so glad I did. I find your photography and descriptions deeply moving on some level I don’t quite understand.

    Glad I found you again. 🙂

    • February 14, 2012 6:00 pm

      Many thanks for visiting, Tinycamper! I see you’re back on the road again- that’s great news!

  9. February 11, 2012 9:26 pm

    These are so cute! Their activity and size remind me of the yellow-rumped warblers, always busy. How many times I’ve focused for a shot only to have a bird disappear. Thanks for sharing all the info about this lovely bird.

  10. February 12, 2012 1:12 am

    those are beautiful little birds, and your photos of them are excellent! I’ve not seen any here, but they would be welcome! The do remind me of Chickadees.

  11. February 12, 2012 6:55 am

    Hi. You can see how mobile these birds are in your series of photos. They are certainly well-named. Jane

  12. February 12, 2012 12:13 pm

    Outstanding photos!

  13. February 12, 2012 4:12 pm

    What a sweet, busy little bird! It seems to have a cheerful demeanor, very much like a chickadee.

  14. February 13, 2012 3:02 am

    A lovely set of photos – they show the bird’s character. I love the one in mid-hop!

  15. February 13, 2012 8:55 am

    Your photos are awesome. It sounds like Golden-Crowned Kinglets are little clowns like the chickadees are. You captured they’re colors beautifully. 🙂

  16. February 15, 2012 10:34 am

    I was over at tinycampers and spotted your blog. What awesome pictures you have taken. I know about focusing and then puff the little things are gone off. Thank you for sharing your photos.

  17. February 15, 2012 3:45 pm

    Endlessly beautiful and interesting, the seasons, and how well you share it all!

  18. February 16, 2012 8:49 am

    Loved them all, but the one with the bird in mid hop between branches was incredible!!

  19. February 16, 2012 11:43 am

    What a beautiful little bird. I think your photos are great. 🙂

  20. February 18, 2012 9:49 am

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  21. March 5, 2012 9:04 pm

    So cute. We had the opportunity to feed some chickadees recently in a park where they had been tamed to eat out of your hand (in winter). Beautiful photos!

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