Ruby-crowned Kinglet Winter Visitor to Louisiana
Kinglet, Bird of Southern Winter Forests
The tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet is one of our favorite winter residents. Being just a little bit larger than a hummingbird, you would think that this bird would be shy, but it's not. These lovely little nymphs are in perpetual motion as they travel through the forests in mixed flocks of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. The males display their ruby crown only when they are agitated. We hope you enjoy learning a little about the second smallest bird in the U.S.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets: the Winter Fairy Bird of Louisiana
One of our favorite tiny woodland sprites is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This fascinating little bird always seems to be in motion. It darts under leaves and flits into vines to eat poison oak berries, then flies back to search for more insects, again and again. The male has a small ruby red spot on the top of its head which is only seen when the little guy becomes irritated or during mating. Since we only host this bird during the fall and winter, we only see the spot when the bird is upset and it is also making a tiny annoyed tittering sound.
The photo above shows one using one of our "Katrina log" feeders. After Hurricane Katrina there were over 150 large, mature trees down. We cut up and removed most of them by hand because we did not want to destroy the native under story plants that were left. As a result, we have many shelf feeders (upright logs) all over the property. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
• A tiny bird, just a little larger than a hummingbird.
• Color is dull, olive-green.
• Bars on the wings
• Ring around the eye.
• Short tail
• Black legs and dull orange-yellow feet
• Always in constant motion and continually flicks its wings.
• Male has red crown which is usually hidden.
• Size: 9-11 cm (4-4 in)
• Wingspan: 16-18 cm (6-7 in)
• Weight: 5-10 g (0.18-0.35 ounces)
• Sexes are similar, but the female is without the red crown.
Sounds and Songs
Watch the video below to hear the songs and sounds of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets do not breed here in Louisiana, but in the northern United States. An interesting fact about their breeding habits is that despite its tiny size, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet lays a very large clutch of eggs. Although the eggs themselves weigh only 0.65 g (0.02 oz), an entire clutch can weigh as much as the female herself.
Reference: All About Birds
Great footage of the calls and songs of Ruby-crowneds doing kinglet things.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Video
Have you ever observed a kinglet flash its red crown?
Ruby Crowned Kinglet Eggs & Babies Video
Ruby-crowned Eating Suet
Kinglets travel through the forests in mixed groups of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and Downy Woodpeckers. In the wild they eat small berries (like poison oak) and insects. According to Martin, Zim and Nelson in American Wildlife and Plants, A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits, while they are primarily insectivorous, one-tenth of Ruby-crowned Kinglets fall and winter food comes from plants. Insects eaten include: wasps, bugs, flies, beetles, plant lice and insect eggs.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets will visit shelf style bird feeders. We often see them on our "Katrina log" feeders, picking at small bits of sunflower seeds or insects. They also love our home made suet and visit our suet feeders daily during the winter. Kinglets also enjoy hummingbird feeders and will steal a sip now and then.
We make out own suet cakes with lard or rendered suet, peanut butter, oatmeal, and sunflower seeds pressed into a pan then cut into pieces to fit into a wire feeder. This one is very sturdy and should last for years if you hang it in such a way that the raccoons and possums can't carry it off.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Eats
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Bathing Video
We don't get to see this often, though they do visit the bird bath during the winter when they are in Louisiana.
Ruby-crown Kinglet Peeks
Good Camera for Bird Photography
Many birders enjoy photographing birds and other wildlife. We used a Canon PowerShot S5IS for most of the photos on this page, but have moved up to the Powershot SX60 and are very pleased with it. For good photos of birds, you need a camera with at least a 12X optical image stabilized zoom.
Good shots of a male flashing his ruby crown as he bounces around as kinglets do.
© 2008 Yvonne L B