Bird Database

Golden-crowned Kinglet

(Regulus satrapa)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Predation, Collisions, Habitat Loss

Conservation Actions

More data are needed on population trends and magnitudes of threats

Golden-crowned Kinglet

(Regulus satrapa)

Kinglets are the smallest songbirds that nest in New Hampshire, and at a quarter ounce (roughly the weight of a quarter) are only twice the size of a hummingbird. They are active little birds that seem to be constantly moving and are well-known for their habit of repeatedly flicking their wings. Both species of kinglets nest exclusively in coniferous forests, but the Golden-crowned is more widespread than the Ruby-crowned. In New Hampshire both species co-occur in the north, but the Golden-crowned also uses areas of pine and hemlock in the south, while stile absent from the coast and major river valleys. Outside the breeding season it can be found statewide, even in small patches of pines in urban areas.

Golden-crowned Kinglets regularly spend the winter in cold and snowy northern forests, where they feed on insects and spiders hidden in bark or clumps of needles. How such a small bird can survive under these conditions remains something of a mystery. They apparently neither build up fat reserves to last them through the night, nor enter into hypothermia to conserve body heat. During cold winter days they probably need to spend all their time foraging just to stay alive, and there are anecdotal accounts of them roosting in squirrel nests or clustered together on branches to conserve heat. Keep all this in mind the next time to see Golden-crowned Kinglets acting as if there was nothing amiss while you shiver on a day when the temperature is below freezing.

Nests are usually high in trees (sometimes 50 feet or more) and difficult to see from the ground, and as a result relatively little is known about the breeding biology of this species. Their nests are appropriately tiny, less than inches across on the inside, but kinglets will fill them with as many as a dozen eggs (although 7-9 is more typical). This is an unusually large clutch for such a small bird, and the energetic demands on a nesting female are presumably substantial. Not only does she need to produce all those eggs in the first place, but she needs to feed the hungry chicks as they grow. Thankfully the male helps take care of the young, especially soon after they hatch when the female is more preoccupied with keeping them warm.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count