What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet

What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet? Quick Guide to This Tiny Bird

Have you ever wondered about this tiny bird with a golden head and striped face? If so, you may have come across the Golden-crowned Kinglet. This remarkable little creature is a sight to behold, and getting to know them better is a treat for any bird enthusiast or nature lover.

As you learn more about the Golden-crowned Kinglet, you’ll discover that it’s a surprisingly hardy species despite its diminutive size. You’ll find these birds in North America’s coniferous forests, where they can tolerate harsh winter conditions.

Kinglets flutter about in search of insects, their primary food source, and can often be identified by their high-pitched calls.

By observing the striking golden crest that adorns the heads of the adults, you’ll soon be able to spot these birds easily. Both males and females showcase this vibrant crown, with the males displaying an additional orange patch on their heads.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert on the captivating Golden-crowned Kinglet.

What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet

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Reference Guides:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds 

The Sibley Guide to Birds

Physical Characteristics: What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?

Size and Weight of Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglets are small birds with a length of 3.5 to 4.3 inches and a wingspan of 6.3 to 7.1 inches. They weigh only about 0.1 to 0.21 ounces, making them incredibly light. You can think of them as being similar in size to hummingbirds.

Keep in mind that the Golden-crowned Kinglet is smaller than the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Golden Crowned Kinglet wingspan

Color and Plumage: What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?

These tiny birds boast striking colors on their plumage. The Golden-crowned Kinglet has olive-green upperparts and pale gray underparts. Furthermore, their most distinguishing feature is the golden-yellow crest on their heads, bordered by black and white stripes. 

Male Golden-crowned Kinglets have an extra orange patch in the center of their golden crest, which they can raise in a display during courtship or territorial disputes.

Remember that the Ruby-crowned Kinglet lacks the signature face pattern of the Golden-crowned.

Beak and Feet: What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?

Golden-crowned Kinglets have a thin, sharp beak designed for foraging and consuming small insects. Additionally, their beak is shorter than that of many other songbirds, allowing them to search for food in tight spaces efficiently. 

They also have relatively short legs and tiny feet, suited for moving nimbly through dense foliage and coniferous trees.

Habitat and Distribution: What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?

Geographical Range

You’ll spot Golden-crowned Kinglets throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada to the southern United States. They breed in the northern and western parts of their range and migrate to the south and eastern regions during the non-breeding season. 

In some regions, you might also find them all year round, such as some coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest. Lastly, they will sometimes join up with other flocks of birds, like woodpeckers and creepers, during migration. Here’s our complete list of woodpeckers that migrate!

Preferred Environment

Golden Crowned Kinglet habitat

These tiny birds prefer coniferous and mixed-coniferous forests, often found in high-elevation and boreal landscapes. During the breeding season, you’ll typically see them nesting in spruce and fir trees. 

In winter, they may move to lower elevations with a mix of deciduous trees such as cottonwoods and aspens. You may even see some kinglets in NYC; check out our complete list of NYC birds.

When exploring these habitats, watch for the Golden-crowned Kinglet’s distinctive foraging behavior, as they often flit about in search of insects on the underside of branches and leaves. So, next time you find yourself in a coniferous forest, look for these tiny, charismatic birds!

Diet and Feeding Habits of Golden-crowned Kinglet

Food Sources for Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Golden Crowned Kinglet foraging for insects

As a bird enthusiast, you might wonder what a Golden-crowned Kinglet consumes. This tiny passerine bird mainly feeds on insects, spiders, and their eggs. The bulk of its diet consists of small arthropods, such as beetles, caterpillars, and aphids. 

During the winter, when insects are low in numbers, Golden-crowned Kinglets also enjoy seeds, berries, and tree sap.

Foraging Techniques (What is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?)

Golden-crowned Kinglets employ various foraging techniques to find their food. You’ll often witness these birds actively hopping around and hovering near branches or leaves, carefully inspecting their surroundings. They use their short, sharp bills to skillfully pick insects and spiders off foliage, bark, and crevices in trees.

Sometimes, you may even see these feathered friends hanging upside down on a branch to reach into tight spaces or explore hidden areas. By adopting these resourceful, acrobatic maneuvers, the Golden-crowned Kinglet can access food sources that other birds might miss.

Remember, when birdwatching, it’s essential to observe proper etiquette and avoid disturbing the feeding habits of these tiny creatures. Just sit back, enjoy, and appreciate the remarkable behavior of the Golden-crowned Kinglet in its natural habitat.

Visit: Beginners guide to bird watching for tips, tricks, and essentials!

Golden-Crowned Kinglet Breeding and Reproduction

Mating Behavior

When discovering “what is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?”, you’ll want learn about their mating behavior. During the breeding season, you might notice Golden-crowned Kinglets engaging in courtship displays.

Males will sing a high, thin song to attract a female. They often raise their golden crown feathers while singing, which makes them more noticeable. 

Once they’ve paired up, they usually mate for life, with both partners remaining loyal to each other. Lastly, they’ll often raise two broods of chicks per year.

Nesting Habits

When discovering “what is a Golden Crowned Kinglet?”, you’ll find that Golden-crowned Kinglets build their nests high up in trees, with a preference for dense conifers like spruce or fir. The female constructs the nest, using materials like moss, lichen, and spiderwebs to create a small, compact structure. 

They may also use some feathers for insulation. The nest is typically situated on a horizontal branch and camouflaged to blend in with its surroundings.

Eggs and Incubation

Golden-crowned Kinglets usually lay between 6 and 9 eggs, which are white with light brown speckles. You’ll find that both parents take responsibility for incubating the eggs, though the female takes the majority of incubation time. The incubation takes around two weeks, after which the chicks will hatch.

The chicks are altricial, meaning they are born blind, naked, and helpless. Both bird parents feed and care for the chicks, bringing them insects and other small invertebrates. After about 16 to 18 days, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest, venturing into the world to begin their lives!

Behavior and Social Structure


Golden-crowned Kinglets are quite territorial birds, especially during the breeding season. You will observe them vigorously defending their chosen nesting sites and foraging areas from potential rivals. 

Furthermore, the Kinglets use their sharp bills and assertive behavior to fend off unwanted intruders. However, they are more tolerant of other bird species outside the breeding season and may join mixed-species flocks while foraging and migrating.


Golden-crowned Kinglets are small birds, but they sure can make some noise! You’ll notice that they are constantly communicating with each other through a variety of vocalizations. A high-pitched, thin “see-see-see” “ti-ti-ti” is their primary call, sometimes followed by a short, descending trill. 

To note: their song is a rapid series of high-pitched notes that may seem difficult to locate, but keep an ear out, and you’ll soon become familiar with it.

What does a Golden-crowned Kinglet sound like?

*Recorded by Sunny Tseng in the John Prince Research Forest*

In addition to these vocalizations, they may also use physical displays to indicate their intentions to others within their social group. So, next time you’re out in the woods, keep an eye and an ear out for these tiny, friendly little birds as they go about their daily lives.

Conservation and Threats

Population Status

You might be interested to know that the Golden-crowned Kinglet population appears relatively stable. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Golden-crowned Kinglet is currently listed as a species of Least Concern. This means that, fortunately, their population numbers are not experiencing a significant decline.

Human Influences on Golden-crowned Kinglets

The Golden-crowned Kinglet is not immune to the effects of human activity. Deforestation and habitat loss can pose threats to their well-being. However, your efforts in promoting and participating in activities like responsible forestry practices, conservation programs, and habitat preservation can help maintain the population of these tiny birds.

You and your community must be mindful of the actions that could disrupt the Golden-crowned Kinglet’s habitat. Educating others and collectively working towards preserving their environment will ensure their continued existence so future generations can enjoy the captivating sights and sounds of the Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Interesting Facts

Golden-crowned Kinglets are remarkable little birds that you might encounter in many North American forests. The following Golden-crowned Kinglet paragraphs contain some interesting facts about these charming creatures.

First, Golden-crowned Kinglets are tiny birds weighing only about 5-10 grams. That’s similar to the weight of two pennies! Despite their small size, they are hardy and can withstand freezing temperatures. They’ve survived in conditions as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

As you’ve probably guessed, the Golden-crowned Kinglet got its name from its head’s bright yellow and orange crest. This colorful crown becomes more vibrant during the late spring and summer breeding season. To attract a mate, the males perform a unique courtship display, which includes raising and lowering their crowns while flicking their wings.

Golden-crowned Kinglets have a distinctive song that may sound like high-pitched, rapid-fire twittering. If you listen closely, you’ll notice that their song is a series of two or three descending notes, followed by a string of more rapid musical songs. This vocalization is a vital way for them to communicate with each other in the dense foliage where they reside.

They are insectivores, meaning their diet primarily consists of small insects and arthropods. Some of their favorite meals include mites, spiders, and aphids. During the winter months, when insects are scarce, they’ve been known to snack on seeds and fruits to supplement their diet.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are pretty nimble, and you’ll often see them flitting from branch to branch in search of food. They have a unique foraging style, hovering near the branches’ ends and plucking insects from the leaves and bark.

Now you have a better understanding of the charming Golden-crowned Kinglet. Next time you’re in the forest, keep your eyes and ears peeled, and you might spot one of these delightful little birds!

Golden-crowned Kinglet Frequently Asked Questions 

Where can I find Golden-crowned Kinglets?

You can find Golden-crowned Kinglets across North America, especially in coniferous forests. During winter, they might move towards lower elevations, and you can spot them in deciduous trees or mixed woodland areas.

What is the size of these birds?

Golden-crowned Kinglets are small birds, measuring about 3.5 to 4.3 inches. Their wingspan ranges from 6.3 to 7.1 inches, weighing around 5 to 6 grams.

What do they eat?

Golden-crowned Kinglets mainly feed on insects, spiders, and other arthropods. During winter, they also consume seeds and fruits. They’re agile foragers, often hovering or hanging upside-down to catch their prey from leaves and branches.

How does their nesting behavior differ from Ruby-crowned Kinglets?

Golden-crowned Kinglets typically build their nests higher in conifer trees, whereas Ruby-crowned Kinglets prefer lower branches or deciduous trees. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet nests are often built with moss, lichen, and spider webs and are lined with feathers, while Ruby-crowned Kinglet nests are constructed with twigs, grass, and bark and are lined with plant down.

What is their habitat?

These birds primarily inhabit coniferous forests, such as spruce, fir, and pine, which provide them with food and nesting sites. They may expand their habitat to deciduous forests and mixed woodlands in winter.

Do Golden-crowned Kinglets migrate seasonally?

Golden-crowned Kinglets are partially migratory birds. Populations in higher latitudes and colder climates may migrate southward during winter to find milder temperatures and food sources. However, not all kinglet populations migrate; some might only move to lower elevations within the same region.

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