World's Smallest Birds


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Regulus regulus

The Goldcrest is a very small passerine bird in the kinglet family. Its colorful golden crest feathers, as well as being called the "king of the birds" in European folklore, gives rise to its English and scientific names. The scientific name, R. regulus, means king or knight.

Several subspecies are recognised across the very large distribution range that includes much of the Palearctic and the islands of Macaronesia and Iceland. Birds from the north and east of its breeding range migrate to winter further south.

Adults upperparts are olive green. The rounded and very broad wings show two white wing bars and dark flight feathers. Underparts are buff white. Their face is pale with orange crown in males and yellow crest in females. Orange and yellow are bordered with black in both sexes. These feathers form a short crest when the bird is excited or alarmed.

Eyes are dark, surrounded by white short feathers. The thin, pointed bill is black. Legs and feet are pale brown. They have strong toes to grasp the branches in upside-down posture.

Juveniles are similar to the adults but lack the head markings until the first autumn.

SONG: A high-pitched, thin and penetrating jingling “ze-zezeezee”- ze-zezeezee…” ending in some flourishes “zi-zi-zip” or “zi-zi zveet”.

CALL: Quiet and repeated “zee-zee-zee”, and stronger when on move “zit-zit-zit”.

Feeds on small insects and spiders found in trees. During winter, it feeds on seeds and insects on the ground. The young grow quickly with a rich diet including insect larvae and small spiders.

Breeds in conifer and mixed woodlands, in large gardens and parks with conifers. Outside breeding season, it also lives in scrub and in deciduous trees.

Breeds in temperate Europe and Asia. Partially migratory, the northern populations winter in the south of the breeding range.

The nest is hammock-shaped, built by both male and female, but mainly by the male. It is built on the outer branches in conifer. The outer part is made with mosses and lichens, woven with spider webs, and well caught to the branches. Median part of the nest is made with mosses, and the inner part is lined with hair and feathers. It is almost spherical with a narrow entrance close to the top.

The female lays 9 to 12 smooth and pale eggs with a few markings, one egg per day. Incubation lasts about 16 days and starts before all eggs are laid.

The female incubates, broods and cares the young for the first seven days. The male feeds the female at the nest and both adults feed the young which fledge at about 17 to 22 days.

Goldcrest infographic



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