Bird Database

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

(Corthylio calendula)

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

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

(Corthylio calendula)

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 Ruby-crowned is largely restricted to spruce-fir habitats, and in New Hampshire does not breed south of the White Mountains. It is a common migrant statewide, and is often found in mixed flocks with chickadees, warblers, and other forest birds in the fall. A few linger into December, but most of the population migrates south of New England.

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.

The song of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a loud and complicated affair that seems like it should come from a bigger bird (also the case for the equally tiny Winter Wren that shares its habitat). It starts with a series of single high notes and transitions into a bubbly jumble. One common rendition is “see see see see look-at-me look-at-me-look-at me look-at-me.” If you are able to locate a singing male, it can be one of the best opportunities to see the red crown patch for which the species is named. Also frequently heard, especially in the context of foraging flocks, is a sharp two note “che-dit,” often the first sign that a Ruby-crowned Kinglet is in the vicinity.

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.

Ruby-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