Although a brightly-colored bird, it may be very difficult to spot a Golden-Crowned Kinglet in the wild. It occupies mostly the upper canopy of the forests and woodlands where both distance from the ground and thick foliage will mask it from observers. Additionally, adults will measure just over 4 inches (10 cm) in length, making them only slightly larger than a hummingbird. The bird’s body is round and egg-shaped with short wings and tail. The underside of the body is a pale gray while the upper parts are olive green. Prominent white and black bands mark the face and a bright gold stripe bordered by black runs across the crown of the head. There is also a thin white bar with yellow edges running over the top of the wings.
These birds can move quickly among the tree tops, darting from branch to branch or hopping along trunks in search of food. Their diet consists almost entirely of insects, including grasshoppers, caddisflies, butterflies, moths, bees, spiders and mites.
Mated pairs will build nests together and produce two clutches of eggs per year. The female can lay up to eleven eggs at a time and will care for the nest while the male gathers food for her and the hatchlings. When first hatched, young kinglets are roughly the size of bumble bees but will mature quickly and generally leave the nest after three weeks.
Golden-Crowned Kinglets will migrate all across North America. They are year-round residents through much of the Pacific Northwest. As they need large trees for both feeding and nesting, they are found in deciduous and mixed forests, woodlands, and wetlands. In urban areas, they may be spotted in wooded parks, graveyards and backyards.
Photo credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service.