by Pat Jaquith
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a permanent resident of conifer forests in our area. Regulus comes from Latin, meaning “little king”; satrapa is of Greek origin, meaning “ruler who wears a golden crown”. Males have a patch of orange feathers between the yellow, but they rarely display them. I’m assuming this one is a female, but it’s possible it’s a male in a peaceful mood!
At only a half-inch longer than our smallest bird, the Calliope Hummingbird, and weighing a mere .2 of an ounce, it’s no wonder we don’t see this little one very often. This high-energy little insectivore usually travels with others of its kind seeking food. They hover at the ends of twigs to gather microscopic mites, aphids, and aphid eggs; in summer their choice of insects is greater, and they occasionally find fruit to add to the protein sources. In winter, their most nourishing food is inchworms, the caterpillar of the geometrid moth, that they find frozen to twigs – mostly of conifers, but occasionally on maples, too.
The female Golden-crowned Kinglet constructs a hammock-like nest of moss, lichen, spider silk, rabbit hair, twigs, feathers, and other plant materials. Then she lays 8 to 11 bee-sized eggs in two layers, using her warm legs to incubate the lower layer! Usually, birds with a low success rate in raising young or migrating have big broods; Golden-crowned Kinglets’ survival challenge is overwintering in our cold climate on a low carbohydrate diet.Continue Reading →