Species: Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

Family: Kinglets and Firecrests (REGULIDAE)

Category: Birds

Location: Widespread

A. Birds

More extensive information on birds can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Kinglets and Firecrests (REGULIDAE)

The kinglet family, in Britain, consists of just two species, the Goldcrest and the Firecrest, though the Ruby-crowned Kinglet from North America was recorded in Scotland in 2020. These birds typically feed on insects high in conifers, their needle-like bills being ideally suited for this. Goldcrests, tiny as they are, regularly migrate from Scandinavia to the UK for the winter. Others are resident in Britain. Firecrests have a more southerly distribution in Europe but undergo similarly varied movements, with different populations visiting Britain to breed, for the winter and on passage. Their tiny size means that their rapid metabolism requires them to constantly forage. It has been shown that kinglets may lose a third of their body weight after just twenty minutes if prevented from feeding; in an hour, they may starve to death. This means they must be handled with extra care during ringing operations.

C. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

The Goldcrest is one of Europe’s two smallest birds. (The other is the Firecrest.) Its greenish upper-parts and paler under-parts are not particularly remarkable, but its golden crest feathers are, and they resemble a golden crown. This explains why it’s called “the king of the birds” in European folklore. It also explains the scientific name, meaning king or knight, and the unusual family name of “kinglet”. (Firecrests are roughly the same size as the Goldcrest but with clear eye-stripes, and whiter underparts. Small they may be, but regal they have become! Male Goldcrests have orange crowns, females yellow (the same applies to the Firecrest). Their song is a series of high, reedy notes. You are most likely to hear these coming from the Cypress trees in the cemetery, as attested to in the photograph here. Older people are often not able to hear these soft, high-pitched calls.



You are most likely to hear Goldcrests in the Cypress trees in the cemetery, as attested to in the photograph here.


This Goldcrest is about to be released, having been ringed in Heene Cemetery on March 15th 2021. This was done by a registered bird ringer. (For more information about bird ringing, see https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/ringing/about.)