Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life bird: Golden-crowned Kinglet

Woohoo! My 2nd life bird of 2009! I made the ID on this while Dave and I were hiking this past weekend in the Desonier State Nature Preserve in southeastern Athens County.

I had heard the high-pitched squibble (I know, not a word, but that's what the sound reminds me of - a squibble) of this bird several times in the past few weeks during lunch-time walks in town near my office, but I had never been able to get a good look at the bird. I knew it was tiny and yellow, and my first guess was some kind of warbler.

When I heard the "squibbling" while we were hiking, I KNEW it was the same species that I had heard on my lunch-time walks, so I was very happy to have my binoculars on hand, allowing me to see the bird close enough to identify field marks. I was shouting out markings to Dave in case I couldn't remember it all by the time I got home to our Peterson's Guide: "clear-breasted.... bright yellow streak on its head... a wing bar... black eye stripe.. also some white around the eye..." I was still thinking it might be a warbler, but then the thought of kinglet occured to me, although I didn't know exactly what kind.

When we got home I went straight to the kinglets in the Peterson's Guide and found my answer. Aside from the field marks, other telling clues were its size (very tiny, smaller than a Goldfinch, just slightly larger than a hummingbird) and activity (it couldn't stay still!!!) According to a range map on the Cornell's All About Birds site, they winter in practically all of the lower 48, but the year-round population does dip down from Canada and the northeast U.S into eastern West Virginia. Also, they prefer coniferous surroundings (I first spotted them in some kind of spruce tree), but they are also present in mixed confirerous-deciduous woods (the Desonier preserve where I made the ID is mostly deciduous).

I wonder what my next Life Bird will be? Perhaps a Common Redpoll? I'm waiting for it... I've heard word that they're around...


Kelly said...

Way to go!

NW Nature Nut said...

Very cool. We mainly get the Ruby-crowned here, although I guess the Golden-crowns are around. They are so cute.

James said...

Congratulations. I just added the ruby-crowned to my list recently and went through a similar shouting of fieldmarks to anyone who could hear. I'm hoping to find a golden-crowned one day.

Would you believe the word verification for this comment is "wings"? Very appropriate.

nina said...

Yay, Heather.
It's so rewarding to finally see what you've hoped for!
I wish you a Redpoll very soon!

Heather said...

Kelly - Thanks!

NWNN - It looks like the range of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet doesn't really get up into Ohio, but I've seen video of one in action (i.e. displaying it's crown), and they are quite fantastic. And yes, too cute, indeed.

James - That's cool about your Ruby-crowned. Let's trade, shall we? I've come across several appropriate word verifications lately - it's kinda creepy!

Nina - Awwww, thanks for the Redpoll wish. I'll let you know if it comes to fruition!

RuthieJ said...

Aren't they the cutest little bird Heather? Good for you!