I’m sure that it only took you one glance to understand where this tiny birdie got its name. While there are 6 species of kinglets, there is only one who sports a dazzling red crown.
Only males possess this feature, even then, revealing it requires a special moment. Usually, this is in the presence of either a potential mate or an enemy.
Aside from that, it’s not easy to tell a male from a female. Both range from greyish-greenish to olive-grey plumage. Ruby-crowned kinglets can also be identified by their white markings around their eyes and across their wings.
When I said this bird is tiny, I meant it! They only get to about 10 cm in length, weighing just 5-10 grams. And it only takes about 10 calories of energy per day to keep this birdie going.
Besides the physical identifiers, you can also recognize a ruby-crowned kinglet by its jittery behavior. Constantly hopping, skipping, and twitching — this bird! Especially while on the hunt for its next meal.
It uses a combination of skipping and hovering movements while it snatches unsuspecting insects between the trees. Ruby-crowns have even been observed catching insects in mid-air during flight. Although the ruby-crowned kinglet is mainly insectivorous, it sometimes eats a bit of sap, berries, or flower nectar.
The most common area to see this bird is in the coniferous forests of North America. Their range extends from Canada down to Mexico, as it’s a migratory bird. In this habitat, you’ll find tall, dense, and piney trees such as evergreens and Douglas firs. Yet, the bird is no stranger to parks and suburbs during wintertime.
Come springtime, this spastic songbird likes to show off his skills! Males let out a surprisingly audible melody to attract females their way. At the same time, he flaunts the vibrant red feathers atop his head, for which he is so famous.
Female ruby-crowns build cup-shaped nests from the organic materials they find nearby. This includes moss, lichens, bark, twigs, and pine needles. The nests are then lined delicately with animal hair, feathers, and cushy plant material to keep the hatchlings cozy.
Despite her petite size, the female ruby-crown lays the largest-sized clutch of all North American passerines. A single nest can contain up to 12 eggs at a time. What’s more, the combined weight of these eggs can weigh as much as Momma Bird herself. She’s small but mighty!
Based on scientific data, it appears that the ruby-crown kinglet population is on the rise. Banding efforts aid in keeping track of the birds’ numbers and migratory patterns. They have also helped scientists get an idea for a typical ruby-crown’s lifespan. The oldest we have on record was about 4.5 years.