Sunday, November 3, 2013

Golden-crowned Kinglet

At the end of October, we banded a few small, mixed-species flocks of kinglets and creepers. We caught a couple of dozen birds. All but one of the kinglets, both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned, were male. In the fall, male Ruby-crowned Kinglets migrate later than their females, thus the lack of females this year is somewhat perplexing. This Golden-crowned Kinglet is a male—note the orange feathers at the back and under the center of the crown.

Golden-crowned Kinglets breed further south and winter further north than Ruby-crowneds. Golden-crowneds, however, are hardier and migrate later than Ruby-crowneds. Wintering birds here in Minnesota can withstand nighttime temperatures below −40 degrees C. In such conditions, small groups of kinglets may huddle together to keep warm (Swanson et al. 2012).

DNA studies indicate that kinglets are closely related to titmice and Old World warblers. Golden-crowned Kinglets are closely related to European Goldcrests. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, on the other hand, are only distantly related to Golden-crowned Kinglets (Swanson et al. 2012).