Golden-crowned Kinglet

Regulus satrapa
A Golden-crowned Kinglet specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

An extremely small (3 ½ inches) songbird, the male Golden-crowned Kinglet is most easily identified by its small size, olive-green body, black eye-stripe, black wings with white wing bars, and bright orange crown patch surrounded by a black ring. Female Golden-crowned Kinglets are similar, but have a yellow crown instead. Both sexes may be separated from the related Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) by that species’ larger size, darker face, and white eye-ring. The Golden-crowned Kinglet breeds across southern Alaska, Canada, and the northern tier of the United States, extending south at higher elevations in the west as far as southern Arizona. In winter, most populations migrate south to the U.S. and northern Mexico, although some populations breeding in the mountain west and the northeastern U.S. migrate little if at all. Isolated non-migratory populations occur in central Mexico and Guatemala. Golden-crowned Kinglets breed primarily in northern and high-mountain evergreen forests. In winter, this species may be found in a variety of evergreen, deciduous, and mixed forests. Golden-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, Golden-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, composed of several high-pitched “chip” notes ending in a lower-pitched whinny. Golden-crowned Kinglets are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Migrant and winter visitor of irregular abundance, arriving early in October and leaving by mid-April. Most numerous in stand of pines, but also found in deciduous forests. Female lacks the male’s red in the crown.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52465 Regulus satrapa (Golden-crowned Kinglet)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC37394 Regulus satrapa (Golden-crowned Kinglet)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC11861 Regulus satrapa (Golden-crowned Kinglet)

Images