Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Regulus calendula

One of North America's smallest birds, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be recognized by its constant wing-flicking. The male shows its red crown only infrequently.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny bird that 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.
  • The Ruby-crowned Kinglet was described in 1766 by Linnaeus; its generic name is Latin for 'little king'.
  • It differs sufficiently in its voice and plumage from other kinglets that it is occasionally afforded its own genus, Corthylio.
  • They feed lower in the canopy than the Golden-crowned and characteristically hovers above a twig looking for caterpillars, aphids, and other insects.
  • A group of kinglets has many collective nouns, including a "castle", "court", "princedom", and "dynasty" of kinglets.


Adult Description

  • Tiny bird.
  • Dull, olive-green.
  • Wingbars.
  • Eyering.
  • Short tail.
  • In constant motion, continually flicking its wings.
  • Male with red crown (usually hidden)

Immature Description

Immature similar to adult.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Regulidae
Genus: Regulus
Species: Regulus calendula
  • Regulus calendula calendula
  • Regulus calendula cineraceus
  • Regulus calendula grinnelli
  • Regulus calendula obscurus
Song a jumble of notes, starting with two or three high "tsees," followed by five or six lower "tur" notes, and ending with repeated "tee-da-lett" phrases. Call a quick "di-dit."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 11 cm (4.25 in)
  • Weight: 6 g (0.2 oz)
  • Size: Very Small (3 - 5 in)
  • Color Primary: Tan, Olive
  • Underparts: Pale gray with yellow wash on belly.
  • Upperparts: Olive-green
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Eyering, Unique pattern
  • Crown Color: Red
  • Forehead Color: Olive-green
  • Nape Color: Olive-green
  • Throat Color: White-Gray
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Weak fluttering flight with shallow wing beats.
  • Wingspan Range: 17-19 cm (6.75-7.5 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Notched Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Dark olive-green
  • Under Tail: Dark olive-green
  • Leg Color: Black
  • Breeding Location: Forest
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Widespread
  • Egg Color: Creamy white splotched with brown or gray
  • Number of Eggs: 5 - 11
  • Incubation Days: 12 - 14
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Moss, lichen, down, twigs, and dead leaves, lined with finer material.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching:

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Roitelet couronne rubis (French)
  • Reyezuelo de Rojo, Reyezuelo Monicolorado, Reyezuelo de Coronilla Colorado, Reyezuelo (Spanish)
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet has a white stripe above the eye, orange crown patch (male), and paler underparts.
  • Hutton's Vireo is larger, stockier, and has a stouter bill.

Conservation Status

Common. May be declining in some areas.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

Preferred habitats include coniferous and deciduous forests.
  • Ingold, J. L., and G. E. Wallace. 1994. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula). In The Birds of North America, No. 119 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Small insects and their eggs.
Gleans food from tips of branches and bark. Hovers and gleans from foliage.

Adult Sexes Similar

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Sexes Similar

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All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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