Firecrest

Regulus ignicapillus

9cm

Appearance

The Firecrest is more vivid in colour than the Goldcrest. Males are a yellowish-green on top and whitish-buff underneath; the wings have light wingbars, there's a dark strip above the eye, a white section through the eye, and a bright orangish-red section on the crown. Female resembles the male, but the marking on her crown is more yellow. Female and males have a gold-brownish section on the side of the neck. Juvenile resembles the adult, but the markings are less distinct and it doesn't have the crown marking.

Habitat

When in the region, the Firecrest prefers Norway spruce, though it may also inhabit mixed or deciduous woodlands. When migrating, may frequent wooded valleys in proximity to the coast.

Character

Is active, flitting regularly rather than keeping a perch. May feed quite low down in scrub. When flying, it seems to be bigger than the Goldcrest. May accompany flocks of smallish birds when not in breeding season.

Food

Diet includes springtails, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, flies, bugs, beetles and snails.

Breeding

Female lays 7-10 eggs which she incubates for 15-17 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart the nest at around 20 days old and gain independence 11 days after that. May have a second brood.

Population

This is a scarce summer visitor and passage migrant, with approximately 550 nesting birds in the region each year, though numbers are difficult to confirm. Small numbers are sometimes seen during winter. Birds of their first-winter migrants tend to arrive in September and October.

Observation Tips

The Firecrest is found in strongest numbers in the south of England, though perhaps the best time to seek them is during autumn migration, when winds may take them to Norfolk and the Scilly Isles.

Voice

The Firecrest has a 'tsuu-tsee-tsee' call that increases in pace and volume. The song is high-pitched with a trilling, flourishing conclusion.
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