Golden Crowned Kinglet


The golden-crowned kinglet is one of our smaller coastal birds. This kinglet along with the ruby-crowned kinglet are the only two species that can be seen on the coast, and they are fairly common. They breed across the coniferous forests of the Island and across North America, including Alaska, the Pacific Northwest of the US, and winter in the southern US and Central America.

The kinglet, despite its small size, survives and thrives even in temperatures that may dip to minus 20 c.

Side by side, the two species of North American kinglet are easy to distinguish. The Golden Crowned Kinglet has a bold black and white striped facial pattern and gold crown patch. The ruby-crowned kinglet has a plain facial pattern, bold eye-ring, and a red crown patch that is often only visible when it is excited.

Golden Crowned Kinglet, Vancouver Island, BC
Golden Crowned Kinglet, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Except for the hummingbirds, the Golden Crowned Kinglet is one of the smallest of our native birds. It is up to 10 cm long with a wingspan of not more than 17 cm. They are a friendly and tame bird and often will accept being hand-fed.

The golden-crowned kinglet has a strong facial pattern of dark and white stripes and a black bill. It is olive-green above and a pale color below. The yellow on the flight and tail feathers is easily seen in the field. It is also easily distinguished by its crown patch, orange in the male and gold in the female. The wing has two whitish wing bars and yellow edging on the flight feathers.

Golden-crowned kinglets prefer to nest in dense coniferous forests. The female builds a cup nest of moss, fine grasses, and lichens in a conifer tree from 6 to 50 feet up. She will lay up to 10 eggs that are incubated by the female, the male will feed her while she sits on the nest. The eggs hatch in about two weeks. Both parents tend the young, who fledge in about 17 days.

Golden Crowned Kinglet, Vancouver Island, BC
Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

Golden-crowned kinglets are important predators of pest insects and their eggs, especially in coniferous forests. Insect foods consist of aphids, bark beetles, scale insects, and other insects found in coniferous trees. Although their food consists primarily of insects, their diet also includes some tree sap.

A message from Bud

2 thoughts on “Golden Crowned Kinglet”

  1. Oct 29, 2021, Maple Ridge, BC. Two, what appeared to be golden-crowned kinglets, foraged for insects in a tree just outside our second floor dining room window at 10:00 this morning. They both had golden crowns and typical white bar markings. However, they had black feathers on their backs and their bellies were greenish yellow. They were the correct size and shape, and their movements and activity level were very much in keeping with kinglets. The pictures you included of golden-crowned kinglets in this post are much paler than the birds I saw. They had undersides the same colour as the backs of the birds you showed. Perhaps they were juveniles.

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