Spotlight on Species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Spotlight on Species 


Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Winter Migrant


This highly energetic little warrior can be quickly identified, even from a distance, by their tiny size and characteristic behavior of frantically foraging with short energetic dashes in the lower branches and shrubs flicking their wings to scare out insects. The male will flash his crown feathers and reveal the bird’s namesake during display, when agitated or alarmed.  The tiny dynamo hangs out in mixed flocks with titmice, creepers and chickadees. These acrobats seem to be curious and friendly around humans.

Habitat:  riparian thickets, shrubby woodlands, deciduous forests, parks and suburbs

Breeding:  nests high in conifer trees which makes them the chagrin of researchers.  Monogamous during breeding season.  Female builds well-concealed nest and broods with male gathering food – one brood per year with clutch sizes that range from 5-12 eggs

Range:  Winter visitor to Arizona’s lowlands, breed in boreal forests of Alaska and Canada and in Rocky Mountains

Similar species:  Hutton’s Vireo

Conservation Status:  Least Concern – a stable population trend for this bird, which remains widespread and common.  Its numbers may fluctuate due to winter die-offs, especially in cold years, but the Ruby-crowned Kinglet’s ability to use a variety of habitats outside of the breeding season has allowed it to adapt and thrive.

Cool facts:  Latin name for Kinglet means “small King”; largest clutch size of any passerine in North America; lives up to 5 years in the wild

Good place to see:  Montezuma Well Picnic area

Contributed By: Lisa Grubbs