Goldcrest

Regulus regulus

9cm

Appearance

This is a tiny bird, the smallest found in the region. It has large eyes and is roundish overall, with rounded wings and a narrow, pointed bill. Males are dull greenish above with two whitish bars on the wings, and they are off-white underneath. There's an orangish patch on the crown, bordered with black. Female resembles the male, but the crown is yellower. Juveniles resemble adults but they lack the colourful crown marking and the plumage colour.

Habitat

The Goldcrest is predominately found in coniferous woods during breeding season, but it may stray to parklands and gardens with older trees. Migrant birds may arrive on islands lacking tree-life, and here they may settle on the edges of cliffs and big rocks.

Character

The Goldcrest is very active, and rarely seems to be still. May hover beneath a leaf to collect insects. Sometimes combines with flocks of small birds when not in the breeding season.

Food

Diet includes spiders, flies, beetles, caterpillars, and occasionally seeds.

Breeding

Birds begin to nest towards the end of April, and the female incubates her 6-8 eggs for 16-19 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart the nest at 18 days old and gain independence 2 weeks after that. Sometimes there's a second nest and brood laid, in which case the male tends to the first brood.

Population

The Goldcrest is a widely distributed resident of the region, though other populations are migrant. Migrant birds, mostly from Scandinavia and other northern areas, may reach the region in October and depart around March. There are approximately 610 000 pairs in the UK and 100 000-250 000 in Ireland, and these numbers increase during the winter due to migration.

Observation Tips

The high-pitched call is the best way of locating these birds, and its worth checking flocks of woodland birds for mingling Goldcrests.

Voice

Has a shrill 'tsee-tsee-tsee' call. The song is heard most often after February; it consists of high-pitched phrases and a rolling 'tee-lee-de, tee-lee-de'.
Back to Bird Index