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Ruby-crowned Kinglet Winter Visitor to Louisiana

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Since the mid-1980s Yvonne has maintained a registered NWF backyard wildlife habitat where a variety of birds, insects and frogs abound.

Kinglets feed on winter berries (such as poison ivy seen here) and insects.

Kinglets feed on winter berries (such as poison ivy seen here) and insects.

Kinglet, Bird of Southern Winter Forests

The tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet is one of our favorite winter residents. Being just a little bit larger than a hummingbird, you would think that this bird would be shy, but it's not. These lovely little nymphs are in perpetual motion as they travel through the forests in mixed flocks of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. The males display their ruby crown only when they are agitated. We hope you enjoy learning a little about the second smallest bird in the U.S.

Regulus calendula

ruby-crowned-kinglet

One of our favorite tiny woodland sprites is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This fascinating little bird always seems to be in motion. It darts under leaves and flits into vines to eat poison oak berries, then flies back to search for more insects, again and again. The male has a small ruby red spot on the top of its head which is only seen when the little guy becomes irritated or during mating. Since we only host this bird during the fall and winter, we only see the spot when the bird is upset and it is also making a tiny annoyed tittering sound.

The photo above shows one using one of our "Katrina log" feeders. After Hurricane Katrina there were over 150 large, mature trees down. We cut up and removed most of them by hand because we did not want to destroy the native under story plants that were left. As a result, we have many shelf feeders (upright logs) all over the property. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

 

Description

• A tiny bird, just a little larger than a hummingbird.

• Color is dull, olive-green.

• Bars on the wings

• Ring around the eye.

• Short tail

• Black legs and dull orange-yellow feet

• Always in constant motion and continually flicks its wings.

• Male has red crown which is usually hidden.

• Size: 9-11 cm (4-4 in)

• Wingspan: 16-18 cm (6-7 in)

• Weight: 5-10 g (0.18-0.35 ounces)

• Sexes are similar, but the female is without the red crown.

Sounds and Songs

Watch the video below to hear the songs and sounds of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Breeding

Ruby-crowned Kinglets do not breed here in Louisiana, but in the northern United States. An interesting fact about their breeding habits is that despite its tiny size, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet lays a very large clutch of eggs. Although the eggs themselves weigh only 0.65 g (0.02 oz), an entire clutch can weigh as much as the female herself.

Reference: All About Birds


Great footage of the calls and songs of Ruby-crowneds doing kinglet things.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Video

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

This male is showing a bit of its red crown.

This male is showing a bit of its red crown.

Ruby Crowned Kinglet Eggs & Babies Video

Ruby-crowned Eating Suet

Kinglets love suet and this wire feeder hold a suet block perfectly.

Kinglets love suet and this wire feeder hold a suet block perfectly.

Diet

Kinglets travel through the forests in mixed groups of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and Downy Woodpeckers. In the wild they eat small berries (like poison oak) and insects. According to Martin, Zim and Nelson in American Wildlife and Plants, A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits, while they are primarily insectivorous, one-tenth of Ruby-crowned Kinglets fall and winter food comes from plants. Insects eaten include: wasps, bugs, flies, beetles, plant lice and insect eggs.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets will visit shelf style bird feeders. We often see them on our "Katrina log" feeders, picking at small bits of sunflower seeds or insects. They also love our home made suet and visit our suet feeders daily during the winter. Kinglets also enjoy hummingbird feeders and will steal a sip now and then.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet Eats

Poison ivy berries are a favorite food.

Poison ivy berries are a favorite food.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Bathing Video

We don't get to see this often, though they do visit the bird bath during the winter when they are in Louisiana.

Ruby-crown Kinglet Peeks

Kinglets are fun to watch as they flit among the foliage searching for tiny insects.

Kinglets are fun to watch as they flit among the foliage searching for tiny insects.

Good Camera for Bird Photography

Many birders enjoy photographing birds and other wildlife. We used a Canon PowerShot S5IS for most of the photos on this page, but have moved up to the Powershot SX60 and are very pleased with it. For good photos of birds, you need a camera with at least a 12X optical image stabilized zoom.


Good shots of a male flashing his ruby crown as he bounces around as kinglets do.

© 2008 Yvonne L B

Leave us a note before you hop away.

wilddove6 on January 23, 2010:

What a delightful lens on such a delightful bird!

I live in the Pacific Northwest and we get both the Ruby-crowned and Gold-crowned Kinglet.

You can always tell when a flock is moving through on a trail hike...lots of wee twitters, and no fear of anything :)

Your pictures are amazing given this fast and flighty little gem!

Wing high five!

ElizabethJeanAl on December 08, 2008:

What an adorable little bird. I have to admit, I never heard of it. Its not on the South Carolina lists anyway. And yes, I want a bluebird box for Christmas as well but my husband doesn't know a bluebird box from a Martin house. I'm giving him one for Christmas. That way I'll get what I want.

Great lens

Lizzy

Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on December 03, 2008:

Thank you for submitting this to the Spirit of the Season Challenge. Great to see the Zazzle module at work.

spoonfulsofdoodles on December 02, 2008:

Beautifully done and that new Zazzle module is superb!! :)