Ruby-crowned Kinglet

All posts tagged Ruby-crowned Kinglet

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet shows off its namesake reddish crown spot while perched at Ashland Nature Center. Image by Derek Stoner, October 23, 2011.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet  is a tiny sprite of a bird, and is our second-smallest native bird (surpassed – or under-passed – by the Ruby-throated Hummingbird as the smallest in size).    Mid- to late-fall is when these agile songbirds come pouring through the Delaware region on their fall migration, after departing their breeding grounds in the conifer stands of the Boreal Forest.  Recently we have seen a lot of kinglets around Ashland Nature Center.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet clutches a small spider in its miniscule beak. Image by Derek Stoner, October 23, 2011.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets (and their cousins the Golden-crowned Kinglets) feed on a variety of small arthropods, from flies to midges to caterpillars and spiders.  The kinglet’s tiny pick-like beak helps them probe under bark and into crevices, where they extract their animal prey.  These birds are well-known for their ability to hover and glean food from the tips of twigs and the underside of branches.  Constantly flicking its wings and tail, this bird always seems to be in frenetic motion.  Kinglets are a very entertaining bird to watch, and seem to like putting on a show of their aerial maneuvers.

While you are out in the local fields and forests this month, keep an eye out for the Ruby-crowned Kinglet– one of our amazing songbirds!

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Fourth in a series about the Delaware Nature Society bird survey trip to Cuba in November, 2010.

Guanahacabibes National Park was my favorite part of Cuba.  Named after the original inhabitants of the area, the Guanahatabeys, this area is at Cuba’s western tip and is very remote and wild.  We stayed at a dive center called Maria la Gorda, which means “Maria the fatso.”  Legend has is that Maria was a prostitute who was captured by pirates and left here on this remote beach many years ago, where she lived out the rest of her years.  Pretty strange, huh? 

The National Park covers over 1,000 square kilometers and is also designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Not only does this area offer world-class scuba diving, but it contains miles of mangrove swamp, coastal thicket vegetation, and limestone karst forest.  We surveyed birds for three wonderful days here, enjoying expert park staff, lots of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and fantastic tropical sunsets.

Of particular interest bird-wise were migrants from North America that we identified.  This was potentially our greatest ornithological contribution of the entire two-week trip.  The first cold front of the season passed the day prior to our arrival, possibly delivering a fresh crop of migrants from the north.  Specifically, we found three species that are not often found in Cuba.  The first was a Lincoln’s Sparrow, which is apparently very rare.  Our Cuban guide, Osmani Borrego, had never seen one.  Next, we found an Eastern Phoebe, classified in the Cuban bird guide as a vagrant.  A vagrant means that it does not regularly occur there.  Third, we found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, another vagrant to Cuba, with very few records in the country.  All of these were found in the same area on the same day.  Maybe these birds are actually more common than what is published in the books, and that more study is needed on their occurrence.  Perhaps we made a valuable contribution to Cuban bird knowledge after all.

Enjoy a short video highlighting the scenery and some of the other birds we found while in the remote, pristine, and beautiful Guanahacabibes National Park and Biosphere Reserve.