Thursday, January 12, 2012

A male Golden-crowned Kinglet displays his orange crest!

While walking along the Little Miami River, I heard the high-pitched see-see-seeing of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. It didn't take me long to find a little female flitting from branch to branch looking for something to eat. She was fairly high in the tree, so I did a little pishing to see if she would come in a little closer. She was very curious of the sound and dropped right down! While I had my camera lens trained on her, a male popped into the frame. "Whoa!" raced through my mind as I watched him raising his "tangerine beret" for all he was worth. His orange crest was brilliant, and I paused to watch. Mistake. He was out of focus in flash and flitting here, there and everywhere...

(If you're not familiar with "pishing" in a bird, check out Mike's post on 10,000 Birds, "The Fine Art of Pishing," for a description! :-)

A female Golden-crowned Kinglet on the left was more interested in my pishing sounds than the male's incredible territorial display of his orange crest, which normally stays hidden among yellow feathers.

The male quickly got used to my pishing sounds and decided nothing was amiss. His tangerine feathers instantly settled back down among the yellow...all but hidden from sight.

...the little female Golden-crowned Kinglet was very curious about the pishing sounds and hung around a little longer.



Luckily she turned around to give us a perfect view of her golden crown.

...but mostly she stayed safely tucked behind a tangle of branches—a special talent kinglets have!

...yes, I see you!

The Little Miami River at the abandoned Peter's Cartridge Factory is an ideal place to find Golden-crowned Kinglets. In the winter, bike traffic is low, so the trail is quiet, and the Golden-crowned's high-pitched calls carry through the trees effortlessly, making it easy to spot the little balls of fluff. I see them almost every time I walk the trail in winter.

Beak Bit
Golden-crowned Kinglets are tiny birds. The only bird in our eastern woods smaller is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird...and to top that off, Golden-crowned Kinglets can be found here all year! It's amazing these birds stay through the winter because they are insect eaters. Kinglets will eat a few grass seeds and elderberries, and they sip from sap wells created by sapsuckers, but they prefer insects. During the winter, they survive by devouring the insect larva and eggs hidden in crevices in bark, branch tips, and dried leaves. This provides a valuable service to us, because by eliminating the eggs and larva in the winter, kinglets help control plant-eating insect populations in the summer. In "Birds of Forest, Yard, & Thicket," by John Eastman (a book I've had for a long time and always enjoy reading, plus it's the source of this information), Eastman writes:
"They consume an abundance of tiny springtails (Collembola) and many bark hibernators—pine and spruce aphids, psyllids, fly larvae, and scale insects—plus eggs of aphids and other insects. Such a diet, researchers believe, provides the major winter sustenance of north-wintering golden crowns..."

29 comments:

Little Brown Job said...

Gorgeous little bird :-)

Bob Bushell said...

It's like our Goldcrest, small bird. Fantastic shots you have.

Roy said...

Lovely images Kelly, yes very like our Goldcrest.

Kerri said...

These are Awesome!! I never knew the male had some "tangerine" to go with this crest!!

Roy said...

Great shots of the Kinglets!

You know, I forgot all about pishing. I need to take it up again the next time I go over to the Dykeman Wetlands park; there are certainly enough small winter Sparrows over there, not to mention Carolina Wrens.

KaHolly said...

Splendid pictures!! Have you read, "Winter World" by Bernd Heinrick? He features the kinglet throughout. Excellent book.

Montanagirl said...

They are so beautiful, and your shots are amazing! I have never seen one of these little beauties.

TexWisGirl said...

gorgeous shots of these tiny things! i've been privileged to see a ruby-crowned kinglet ONCE and it was SO tiny! just perfect!

Ken Januski said...

Hey Kelly,

You've reminded me of some of my favorite nature books, which I've also had for a long time but have not pulled out in years, those by John Eastman.

I'm always amazed to see the Golden-crowned Kinglets still around in January. Resourceful little bundles they are.

Robert Mortensen said...

Awesome photos! I can't get enough of those cool Kinglets.

Dan Huber said...

How wonderful to get to see them so close. wonderful pictures, i have such trouble keeping them in view long enough for a shot, usually blurry.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

A great post on a wonderful bird. I always enjoy your wonderful photos and the interesting information you provide.

Guy

Lois Evensen said...

What a beauty! Lovely images. :)

Tammie Lee said...

I am far enough into winter that i am missing the song birds. Perhaps it is time for me to put food out for them. The seed grasses are still standing for their food, as we have had little snow this season.

your photos are such a delight to see, including the splash of their color.

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Thanks, Kelly, for the link about pishing. I had never heard of it but will certainly try it and see if it works on California birds.

Janice K said...

Wonderful pictures! Loved them.

Gillian Olson said...

Great captures, wonderful series of shots.

holdingmoments said...

Lovely shots Kelly.
A real little beauty.

KAT said...

wow you must have had a heart attack when he swooped into view That photo is amazing ! Congratulations on all these great shots. And the info is always soaked up and absorbed by me

I really enjoy your posts Kelly

- KAT-

Carol Mattingly said...

And you did them well Kelly. Your images are beautiful. Wished we had those here, but I've never seen them. Carol

grammie g said...

HI Kelly...So precious and with that dazzling little head dress..very tiny indeed!
Very nice
Grace

Larry said...

Well Kelly, you have outdone yourself this time! I have seen many Golden-crowned Kinglets and have yet to see the male's orange feathers erected, yet you have caught it on film. Excellent!

All of your photos are amazing as always. I'm sure some folks don't know how difficult it is to get decent Kinglet photos since they don't sit still long enough and, as you mention, they have a penchant for hiding behind tangles of branches. That second shot of the male is priceless!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Love those little birds, Kelly... The male is stunning --but the female is gorgeous also. Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly these are some of my favorite birds. Never noticed the orange before, yet I am red colored blind. Some reason I have not heard or seen them this winter. I can recall years ago visiting Ohio and walking out at East Fork lake and phishing in a small flock of them.

Kathiesbirds said...

Great pics and wonderful information Kelly! I just love kinglets! I have not seen any in my yard this winter, nor have I seen them down at the bog but last year I saw them several times! I would love to find one now for my big January count!

Elaine said...

Fantastic photos, Kelly! You always seem to score when you head out along the Little Miami, but capturing this little sweetie is extra special.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone for the kind words! This little bird is so cute, and when the male flares his orange crest, WOW! What a sight. If you're not watching these birds through binoculars or a camera lens, you miss the detail of their little yellow crown.

Garden Lily said...

Wondeful photos, and what a beautiful crest the male has. I have never seen it before.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

What a wonderful capture! I've never seen a male show its crest before. Great shots!