Ruby-crowned Kinglet:Migration Monday

Hello everyone! Today’s featured bird for Migrant Monday is the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. I was inspired to learn more about these tiny birds because I recently went to Rancocas Nature Center and saw multiple Kinglets zipping through the thickets.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)


Ruby-crowned Kinglets are very tiny; only about 3.5 to 4.5 inches. They are smaller than chickadees and warblers. They are compact and have almost no neck. All adults have olive green/grayish plumage, white/black wingbars , a white eye ring, and black eyes/bill. The males have a ruby crown on their heads that is usually hard to spot unless the male is excited. He will erect the “ruby crown” to attract mates or ward off rivals and predators. These tiny birds are bursting with energy and are often seen flitting around in thickets and bushes.

A male Ruby-crowned Kinglet displays his “crown” (Image by Ken Schneider via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)


Short distance Migrant. Summer (breeding): Canada, Alaska, extreme Northern United States, as well as some parts of the Western United States. Winter: Southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. Migration: Midwest to Eastern United States. Resident in Nevada, Northeastern Arizon, Utah, and Southern Idaho.


Summer (breeding): coniferous forests, including firs, spruce, and pines. Winters: thickets, deciduous, coniferous, and mixed woods, and mesquite brush


Ruby-crowned Kinglets are considered foliage gleaners, meaning they will eat prey they find on the leaves throughout thickets and trees. Sometimes they will catch prey in mid-air or hover instead of perching on a branch. They mainly eat insects, pseudoscorpians, spiders, and insect eggs. They will eat whatever is readily available. Sometimes in the winter they eat sap from flowers, seeds, or berries.

Ruby crowned kinglet Dave Cagnolatti
(Image by David Cagnolatti & Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation via

Breeding and Nesting:

To attract a mate, males will raise their ruby crown, crouch low and flutter his wings. The females will build the nest high in the treetops on small branches or near the trunk. Some nest may be up to 100 feet high! The nest is made up of lichen, twigs, conifer needles, spiderwebs, and other natural materials. It takes the female about 5 days to build an elastic nest about 4 inches with and 5 inches deep. She will maintain the nest frequently and the nest will expand as the brood does. The female Kinglet only has one brood per year, but can lay between 5 and 12 eggs in a clutch. While the male feeder he she will incubate the eggs for 13-14 days. The chicks will fledge after around 16 days.


Songs: Songs usually last about 5 seconds. The male will start with soft high notes, transition to twittering, then end with a few short musical patterns. Calls: Series of short notes. Females may also use the alarm call.

Fun Facts:

  • The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is larger than its other North American cousin, the Golden-crowned Kinglet. The Golden-crowned is a black and gold crow, whiter/gray underparts, and a more distinct facial pattern than the Ruby-crowned.
  • Peak migration in the fall for Ruby-crowned is around October which is earlier than Golden-crowned Kinglets. They migrate later in the spring than Golden-crowned, usually in April.
  • Despite its tiny size, Ruby-crowned Kinglets have very loud and jumbled songs.
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglets are almost constantly flicking their wings.


Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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