This tiny songbird, which weighs less than a dime, is about the size of our largest North American hummingbirds. It is an energetic little package, flicking its wings as it hunts for tiny insects, spiders, bug eggs, and larvae. Kinglet habitat includes forests, shady neighborhoods, brushy thickets, and wooded riverways.
LOOK for a tiny, olive-gray bird with dark wings, prominent white wing bars, broken white eye rings, a stubby tail, and a slender beak. A male’s bright ruby crown is visible when the bird is excited or aggressive.
LISTEN for ruby-crown sounds: a rough jit-jit call and a prolonged song sounding like chee-chee-chee chew-chew-chew-chew chidee-chidee-chidee.
WATCH ruby-crowned kinglets pluck food from bark crevices and tree leaves. They also hover in the air and snatch insects, or sit on twigs and flutter out to snag flying meals.
USE binoculars to pick out ruby-crowned kinglets within mixed flocks of small songbirds. Chickadees, brown creepers, woodpeckers, and titmice are common kinglet companions.
DID YOU KNOW that the ruby-crowned kinglet’s nest is a moss-lined cup placed high in a tree? It contains up to a dozen tiny eggs, the total weight of which may exceed the mother.
— Tom Carpenter
Photo: Ron Austing