The Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)
Winter is a great time to observe this little 5-7gram bird. By comparison and Anna’s hummingbird averages only slightly smaller at 3-6 grams. While summer finds this olive-green colored bird in the mountain forest and 100 feet or more up in a pine or fir tree, in winter you will often finding them hopping around on the ground searching for insects or spiders to eat. They eat arachnids like scorpions and wind scorpions and supplement with a few seeds and fruits.
Look for movement, they are busy little foragers that move often and flick their wings. The head and back is an olive-green while the belly is more of a buffy-gray color. Their eyes are surrounded by an incomplete white eye ring, They have a thick white wing bar (sometimes 2). A hint of yellow is to be found toward the tips of their wings. Males (but not the females) possess a ruby colored crest, keeping it hidden unless they are defending territory or courting females. Their bill is of the all purpose variety, colored black and lacks a hook at the tip. This bill feature, of a hook, is possessed by the Hutton’s Vireo. The Hutton’s Vireo is a year-round resident in our area, but far less common.
The Kinglet’s scolding chit-chit chit-chit call can be heard frequently as you stroll along the trails at Deer Creek Hills Preserve. The male’s song is actually very high pitched and may be difficult for some to hear. Look and listen for them in your own neighborhood too, as they are quite tolerant of humans. According to Project Feederwatch they prefer basket and platform feeders which offer suet, peanut pieces, sunflower seeds and mealworms.
Article and photos courtesy of SVC Docent Lisa S Couper, DVM.