An extremely small (4 inches) songbird, the male Ruby-crowned Kinglet is most easily identified by its small size, olive-green body, white eye-rings, black wings with white wing bars, and solid red crown. Female Ruby-crowned Kinglets are similar, but lack the male’s red crown. Both sexes may be separated from the related Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) by that species’ pale face, black eye-stripe, and yellow on the head. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet breeds across Alaska, Canada, and the northern tier of the United States. In the west, this species’ range extends south at higher elevations as far as southern Arizona. In winter, most populations migrate south to the southern half of the U.S., along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to California, and in Mexico, although some populations breeding in the mountain west simply winter at lower altitudes nearby. Ruby-crowned Kinglets breed in northern and high-mountain evergreen forests. In winter, this species may be found in a variety of forest habitats from temperate deciduous woodland to open tropical forest. Ruby-crowned Kinglets primarily eat small insects and spiders, but will also eat fruit and seeds during the winter or when invertebrates are not available. In appropriate habitat, Ruby-crowned Kinglets may be observed flitting through the forest canopy while plucking small invertebrates from leaves or evergreen needles. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of high chirps followed by a jumble of notes and a trill. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are primarily active during the day.
- Swanson, David L., J. L. Ingold and G. E. Wallace. 2008. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/119
- Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
- eBird Range Map - Ruby-crowned Kinglet. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/ruckin.
- Regulus calendula. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://xeno-canto.org/browse.php?query=Regulus+calendula.
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/ruby-crowned-kinglet-regulus-calendula.
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: BREEDING: Labrador east through Quebec, northern Manitoba, and northwestern Canada to Alaska, south to northern New England, northern Great Lakes region, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California. NON-BREEDING: Pacific states, British Columbia, and southern U.S. south through Mexico to Guatemala, also western Cuba and Bahamas.
Length: 11 cm
Weight: 7 grams
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Nests in coniferous forests and woodlands. In migration and winter it also inhabits deciduous woodlands, shrubs and thickets and may be found in old fields, gardens, yards and parks. BREEDING: Nests in coniferous trees (usually spruce), 1-30 m above ground. Nest usually hangs from stem or twig fork, occasionally it saddles a branch.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Migrates to lower latitudes or elevations for winter.
Comments: Primarily insects and other small invertebrates (e.g., wasps, ants, beetles, moths, spiders and pseudoscorpions). Eats some berries and seeds; drinks sap. Forages at branch tips in trees and often in shrubs; may hover while foraging; captures aerial prey and plucks insects from coniferous or deciduous foliage (Keast and Saunders 1991).
Population declines occur after exceptionally cold winters. Seen in scattered groups in association with golden-crownd kinglets, nuthatches, chickadees, etc.
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Clutch size 5-11 (usually 7-8). Incubation about 12 days, by female (Terres 1980). Altricial, downy nestlings tended by both parents. Young first fly at about 12 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Regulus calendula
There are 37 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Regulus calendula
Public Records: 37
Specimens with Barcodes: 38
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2008Least Concern
- 2004Least Concern
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding