It's been a great fall for Golden-crowned Kinglets. They must have fared well on their boreal breeding grounds, as I've seen - and heard - as many or more this season as I ever have. Anywhere that some trees, shrubbery, or especially conifers are found, you're likely to hear the thin lispy tsee tsee tsee of kinglets. Just the other day, I was in the heart of Columbus's interurban concrete jungle, with scarcely a tree to be seen, other than a spindly ornamental Norway Spruce. And there they were - a kindling of kinglets, working the branches.
Unfortunately, not all songbirds survive their peregrinations. My brother Mike found this golden-crown shortly after it plowed into a window. It probably broke its neck, as often is the case with window-crashers. But, before it becomes a museum specimen, we can have a good look.
The ruler reveals the truly diminutive size of this species. Kinglets - both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned - are only about 3 3/4 inches long. That makes them among North America's smallest songbirds. Small, but tough.
Our specimen is a male, as evidenced by the rich orange crown stripe. In females, this patch is entirely yellow.
Kinglets are chronically inquisitive, however, and if you desire a better view, just start making squeaking and pishing sounds. Sure, you'll look and sound like a major weirdo, but the birds will often approach you within ten feet. Hey, the opportunity to study weirdos is irresistable, even for kinglets!
Chances are, when they do come over to check you out, they'll be mad. You've probably got little to fear in the way of bodily harm from these six gram brutes, but they may well have their crown stripes fluffed so you can see the colors.
Kinglets are extremely efficient at ferreting out animal life that you and I would probably never see or even know existed. Golden-crowneds find enough food to easily handle northern winters, in snowy cold landscapes in which it wouldn't seem that any any insect life was there for the plucking.
The orange depicts the winter range of the Golden-crowned Kinglet. No sissy, this feathered pipsqueak. They routinely overwinter in Ohio and such northern latitudes, and even to the north of us. The green and blue colors denote breeding range. Interestingly, Golden-crowned Kinglets have been expanding southward as breeders, occupying mature stands of planted spruce. Ohio has a number of breeding records, but the first was not until 1962. However, it wasn't until 1989 till we had our next breeding record, but since then they've become very rare but regular nsters.
Next time you are around some big spruce trees, take time to look and listen for Golden-crowned Kinglets. They're almost certain to be there, and a kinglet in the branches is far better than a kinglet in the hand.