One of my favorite species of bird to photograph this time of year are Kinglets. With Warbler and Raptor migration having already peaked, and the winter species not overly abundant yet, with the exception of Juncos and Sparrows, I switch my attention to these colourful little birds. Both species of Kinglets; the Ruby-crowned, and Golden-crowned can be found in large numbers right now in our area.
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a stocky, olive-gray coloured bird with bright yellow on its wings, distinct white eye ring and wing bars. Males are identified from females by their scarlet crown patch. The Golden-crowned Kinglet is slightly smaller than the Ruby-crowned and lacks the white eye ring. The real distinguishing feature is of course the golden crown for which it is named. Look for this yellow crown patch surrounded by black and a contrasting white eyebrow. Males have a small orange patch mixed in with the yellow.
Both species of Kinglets are tiny birds with the Ruby- crowned being smaller than a Chickadee and the Golden-crowned not much bigger than a Hummingbird. Fortunately both species flick their wings and move almost constantly which gives their location away. The disadvantage of this is it makes photographing them extremely difficult. Patience is key because eventually a clear still shot will present itself.
Kinglets primarily feed on insects, but at this time of year when insects can be scarce, they will consume the seeds of wild plants. My best advice to you right now if you are looking for Kinglets is to look low to the ground, particularly in Golden Rod fields with a mixture of shrubs surrounding them. Many of the city parks and Environmentally Significant Areas are loaded with Kinglets right now. Look for their almost constant wing movements, and shaking Golden Rod stalks as they fly from plant to plant. Another dead give away that Kinglets are in an area is their high pitched ascending songs and calls. Learn to identify their sound and locating them will be much easier. I mentioned in a previous blog post the All About Birds website where the various calls and songs of over 589 birds can be played. This is a valuable tool to any birder.