Friday, April 20, 2012
What: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula).
Identification: The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is one of the smallest songbirds in North America, weighing only 5-10g (0.2 - 0.4 oz). Its distinguishing characteristics are the wing bars and olive & yellow coloring on its wing tips and backside. The ruby crown that the males wear is hard to see until a male dips its head, and even more rare is when it sticks up the crest like a bright red mohawk. The song is challenging to describe, as it is a jumble of notes; it often begins with 2-3 high pitch "tsees," followed by 5-6 low "tur" notes, and ends with ending with a repeated "tee-da-lett!"
Where: Centennial Woods
Ecological Notes: Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be found as a year-long resident throughout Southern New England, but will come up to mixed woods forests of Northern New England and Canada for breeding. We won't find their nests unless we scale 100-foot tall trees, but they are known to make nests that are quite large compared to their body size, in order to accommodate a large clutch. Its small, thin bill is indicative of its feeding habits on small insects, but it will also forage lower in the forest on fruits and seeds in the late autumn and winter.
Other Notes: These tiny songbirds are feisty and hard to track, hopping from tree to tree with such alacrity. I went through dozens of worthless, blurred photos before I could capture one in its fleeting stillness. Teage and I began our morning walk being prompted by a mentor of ours who knew the call right away. The rest of the morning, we trailed several kinglets until we made it past the power line clearing, where they came down to just above eye level, and we finally got a good look at the male's fire red crest.