[Published in 1949: Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 196: 382-397]
Many years ago, a boy found on the doorstep the body of a tiny feathered gem. Perhaps the cat had left it there, but, as it was a bitter, cold morning in midwinter, it is more likely that it had perished with the cold and hunger. He picked it up and was entranced with the delicate beauty of its soft olive colors and with its crown of brilliant orange and gold, which glowed like a ball of fire. In his eagerness to preserve it, he attempted to make his first birdskin. It made a sorry-looking specimen, but it was the beginning of a life-long interest in birds, which lasted for over a half century. Since then many a winter landscape in southern New England has been enlivened by the cheery little groups of kinglets, wandering through our evergreen woods, bravely facing winter's storms and cold, for it is only at that season that we are likely to see them south of the Canadian zone.
The summer home is in the coniferous forests of the northern tier of states and in the southern provinces of Canada. Ora W. Knight (1908) says that, in Maine, "pine, fir, spruce and hemlock woods, or mixed growth in which these trees predominate are their preference." Most observers say that they prefer the spruces. William Brewster (1888) found them breeding in Winchendon, Mass., in dense woods of white pine and spruce. Based on my limited experience, golden-crowned kinglets seem to prefer the more open forests of more or less scattered, second-growth spruces, rather than the dense forests of mature growth. In these more open forests there are often a few balsam firs or white birches scattered through the spruces, but the presence of spruces seems to be necessary for nesting purposes.
In the Adirondack Mountains of New York, according to Aretas A. Saunders (1929a), this kinglet "lives in the coniferous forests, especially in the tops of tall spruces. Spruce, hemlock, balsam, and tamarack all attract it, and it is seldom seen in summer in the hardwoods, and then only where the spruces are near. On the Avalanche Pass Trail I found it in second growth spruce, where the trees were dense but only ten or fifteen feet high."
The golden-crowned kinglet is found high in similar situations in the mountains of western Massachusetts, in places where the spruces have not been cut off. And Prof. Maurice Brooks writes to me: "This is a permanent resident in the Appalachian spruce forests, the most notable thing about it being its extraordinary abundance, especially late in summer. I recall one 10-day period spent at the Cheat Mountains when it seemed that kinglets were around us during almost every daylight minute. The spruce tops swarmed with them, parent birds and young of the year. In the same area, during subzero January weather, the birds were still abundant, although I do not know that the same individuals occurred."
Referring to northern Minnesota, Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1932) says: "In nesting-time the Golden-crown makes its home in the dense spruce and arbor vitae bogs so numerous in the northern woods."
Spring.--As some golden-crowned kinglets spend the winter well up toward the northern limits of their breeding range, the spring migration is seldom conspicuous and is not easily traced. Robie W. Tufts tells me that it is normally resident throughout the year near Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and begins "nest-building with great regularity about April 15th." But in some seasons it seems to be conspicuous by its absence, for he says: "In the spring of 1918 none of these birds was seen about their favourite haunts near Wolfville, in spite of the fact that a diligent search was made." On migration in New England it is not confined to the coniferous woods, but may be found wherever there are trees and bushes, in the undergrowth in deciduous woods, in brushy thickets, in sprout lands, and even in orchards or the shrubbery in our gardens.
Milton B. Trautman (1940) records a well-marked migration around Buckeye Lake, Ohio, saying: "The first spring arrivals occasionally appeared in the first week in March, but usually they did not arrive until March 15 to 23, and it was not until after March 27 that the species could be daily encountered in small numbers. The numbers rapidly increased after April 3, and at the height of spring abundance, between April 9 and 21, between 25 and 150 birds were recorded daily. During migrations the majority of individuals inhabited the brushier portions of woodlands, brushy thickets, weedy fence rows, and thickets of hawthorn and wild plum."
Nesting.--Henry D. Minot (1877) was the first ornithologist to discover the nest of the golden-crowned kinglet, on July 16, 1875, "in a forest of the White Mountains [New Hampshire], which consisted chiefly of evergreens and white birches." The nest "hung four feet above the ground, from a spreading hemlock-bough, to the twigs of which it was firmly fastened; it was globular, with an entrance in the upper part, and was composed of hanging moss, ornamented with bits of dead leaves, and lined chiefly with feathers. It contained six young birds, but much to my regret no eggs."
The most elaborate account of the nesting of this species is that given by Mr. Brewster (1888), describing the tree nests that he secured, near Winchendon, Mass., during that season. The first nest, taken June 29, "was placed in a tall, slender spruce (A. nigra), on the south side, within about two feet from the top of the tree, and at least sixty feet above the ground, suspended among the pendant twigs about two inches directly below a short horizontal branch, some twelve inches out from the main stem, and an equal distance from the end of the branch. The tree stood near the upper edge of a narrow strip of dry, rather open woods bordered on one side by a road, on the other by an extensive sphagnum swamp." Externally the nest varies in depth from 3.60 to 2.70, and in diameter from 4.20 to 3.00 inches, being irregular in outline.
The top of the nest is open, but the rim is slightly contracted or arched on every side over the deep hollow which contained the eggs. . . .The cavity is oblong, not round. The walls vary in thickness from 1.35 to .40. Outwardly they are composed chiefly of green mosses [five species of Hypnum and one of Frullania, added in footnote] prettily diversified with grayish lichens and Usnea, the general tone of the coloring, however, matching closely that of the surrounding spruce foliage. The interior at the bottom is lined with exceedingly delicate strips of soft inner bark and fine black rootlets similar to, if not identical with, those which invariably form the lining of the nest of the Black-and-yellow Warbler. Near the top are rather numerous feathers of the Ruffed Grouse, Hermit Thrush, and Oven-Bird, arranged with the points of the quills down, the tips rising to, or slightly above the rim and arching inward over the cavity, forming a screen that partially concealed the eggs.
The second nest, taken the same day, was in--
a lonely glen on high land between two ridges. The ridges were covered with young white pines. The prevailing growth in the glen was spruce and hemlock, the trees of large size and standing so thickly together as to shut out nearly all sunlight from the ground beneath. The nest was on the west side of a sturdy, heavily limbed spruce (A. nigra) about fifty feet above the ground, twenty feet below the top of the tree, six feet out from the trunk, and two and a half feet from the end of the branch, in a dense cluster of stiff, radiating (not pendant) twigs, the top of the nest being only an inch below, but the whole structure slightly on one side of the branch from which its supports sprang. Above and on every side it was so perfectly concealed by the dense flakelike masses of spruce foliage that it was impossible to see it from any direction except by parting the surrounding twigs with the hand. From directly below, however, a small portion of the bottom was visible, even from the ground. The foliage immediately over the top was particularly dense, forming a canopy which must have been quite impervious to the sun's rays, and a fairly good protection from rain also. Beneath this canopy there was barely sufficient room for the birds to enter.
This nest is similar to the other, though somewhat smaller and rounder, and the lining "is wholly of the downy under feathers of the Ruffed Grouse. These are used so lavishly that, radiating inward from every side, they nearly fill the interior and almost perfectly conceal its contents."
Referring to the third nest, he says: "The position of the third nest is different from that of either of the others. Placed nearly midway between two stout branches which in reality are forks of the same branch, one above the other, and at the point in question about six inches apart, it is attached by the sides and upper edges to the twigs which depend from the branch above, while its bottom rests firmly on a bristling platform of stems which rise from the branch below."
Mr. Brewster's lowest nest, the third, was 30 feet from the ground. Owen Durfee's experience, near Lancaster, N.H., was quite different; he says in his notes on nine nests: "The nests were all, with exception of two, in small spruces, most of our hunting being done in what we called 'pasture spruces'--really a second growth." Only one of the nests was up in the air, the average of the other eight being only 14 feet. His highest nest was 46 feet from the ground, "in a 12 inch spruce, in tall, hard woods growth, with a few scattered evergreens." His lowest nest was only 8 feet from the ground. The only nest that was not in a spruce was 18 feet up in a balsam fir.
Ora W. Knight (1908) mentions a nest found near Bangor, Maine, that was only 6 feet from the ground, and says that most of those located by him in inland localities were "nearer forty to fifty feet in elevation." Miss Cordelia J. Stanwood has sent me some voluminous notes on the home life of the golden-crowned kinglet, near Ellsworth, Maine, where she finds them nesting in both black and white spruces. They begin nest-building in April, in spite of occasional snowstorms at that season, and she has found a nest about half finished on April 25. It requires about a month to complete the nest, in which the female apparently gathers the material and does all the building, while the male accompanies her and encourages her with song. She describes the building process, as follows: "The kinglets selected for the roof of their cradle a heavy spruce limb with a dense tip; and the female, hopping down through the branch from twig to twig, attached her pensile nest to the sprays.
"The bird wove her spherical structure about herself much as the caterpillar of the luna or cecropia moth weaves its cocoon about itself, except that the kinglet had to gather her materials. The bird stood on a twig on one side of the space she had chosen for her nest and measured off her length, as far as the situation of the twigs would permit, by attaching bits of spider's silk and moss to the twigs. Thus she laid off the points for the approximate circle for the top of the nest. Then she spanned the space through the center of the circle, roughly speaking, from north to south, with spider's silk and moss, forming a sort of cable, which later assumed the appearance of a hammock. After a time, when the bird came with moss or silk, she would fly down upon the hammock as if to test its strength and lengthen it. At all times, however, she worked all over the nest from left to right, moving her beak back and forth as she secured the silk and moss and stretched the web from one point of attachment to another. As soon as the hammock would support the bird, she stood in the center and walked round from left to right. When the hammock was wide enough to admit of her sitting down, she modeled the center of the suspended band by burrowing against it with her breast, and making a kicking motion with her feet. Gradually she embodied some of the twigs in the structure, as if for ribs, and occasionally she snipped off a spruce twig to use in shaping the globular nest. At last the bottom, or basketlike part, arose to meet the top of the nest and the industrious gold-crest was hidden from sight as she labored.
"The creation was really a silken cocoon, in the walls of which was suspended enough moss, hair, and feathers to render it a nonconductor of heat, cold, and moisture. This primitive incubator was made of the same fine, dark yellow-green moss, Hypnum uncinatum, that seems characteristic of the habitations of the golden-crowned kinglet in this locality, Usnea longissima, a long, fringelike lichen, and animal silk. More of the gray-green Usnea lichen was used in the hammock-like band around the middle of the nest than in other parts of the well-made structure. The lining consisted of rabbit hair, I think, and partridge feathers. The wall of the above was all of an inch and a half thick, and the window in the roof measured an inch and a half in diameter."
Nest-building starts early in Nova Scotia; Mr. Tufts tells me that he found two nests just started on April 10, 1921. In order to determine how many nests the kinglets would build and how many eggs they would lay, if the nests were destroyed, he tried the experiment of taking three nests from each of two pairs in isolated groves. He took the three sets from one pair on May 26, June 11, and June 30, 1915; and the other pair was robbed on May 27, June 15, and June 29, of 1917. Each pair laid nine eggs each in the first two nests and eight in the third. The third nest was a flimsy affair. The birds must have worked fast to have built these nests and laid the large sets of eggs in such short intervals.
S. F. Blake (1916) found an interesting nest, in an unusual situation, near Stoughton, Mass., of which he says:
My attention was first attracted by the familiar call-notes of the birds coming from the edge of a rather close growth of Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and deciduous trees at the base of a low hill close to a little-travelled wood-road. Pushing in among the trees, I soon caught a glimpse of the female Kinglet being pursued by a Black-and-White Warbler. The male soon came into view, and very soon the female disappeared in the top of a red cedar about twenty feet high. After a few minutes' wait I climbed a nearby tree and found her sitting on the nest. This was placed 18 feet 10 inches above the ground on the upper side of a small branch about a foot long, near the trunk and about a foot and a half from the top of the tree, rather firmly fastened and requiring some effort to dislodge.
Eggs.--The golden-crowned kinglet lays large sets of its tiny eggs, from five to ten in number, perhaps most often eight or nine. The nest is so small that they have to be deposited in two layers, probably five in the lower and four in the upper layer in a set of nine; that was the arrangement in one of Mr. Brewster's (1888) nests. His description of the eggs is so good that I cannot improve upon it; of the 18 eggs, he says:
The majority are more or less regularly ovate, but several are elliptical-ovate while two are very nearly perfectly elliptical-oval. The ground color varies from creamy white to exceedingly deep, often somewhat muddy, cream color. Over this light ground are sprinkled numerous markings of pale wood-brown, while at least three specimens have a few spots and blotches of faint lavender. The brown markings vary in size from the finest possible dots to rather large blotches. In most of the specimens they are distributed pretty thickly over the entire shell, but in nearly all they are most numerous about the larger ends where they form a more or less distinct wreath pattern, while in four or five (and these have the lightest ground color) they are nearly confined to the larger ends, the remainder of the egg being sparsely marked. . . . In both sets the whitest, most sparsely spotted eggs were the freshest, showing that they were the last ones laid.
The measurements of 50 eggs average 13.3 by 10.4 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 15.0 by 10.5, 14.4 by 10.7, 11.9 by 9.8, and 14.7 by 9.7 millimeters.
Young.--Miss Stanwood writes: "The young kinglets are about as large as bumble bees when they come from the shell. They are blind and almost naked, save for a few tufts of fine, gray down. At the approach of the parent birds, they raise their little, palpitating bodies and open wide their tiny, orange-red mouths for food. These mouths are about the color of the meat of a peach around the stone. The veins showing through the thin skin give the bodies much the same tone. At first the young are fed by regurgitating partly digested food; later moths, caterpillars, and other insects furnish their diet. They are very fond of spruce bud moths and caterpillars. A beautiful triple spruce was attacked by these pests and almost denuded of its foliage. I noticed the kinglets frequenting this tree a great deal. In a season or two, the foliage was as luxuriant as it had been in the past. Such are the good offices performed by the golden-crowned kinglets and their young. The feet of the young are large and strong for the size of their bodies. If a person attempts to lift one from the nest, the little fellow will tear the lining out before he will release his hold. Just before the feathers appear the young begin to preen, and after that spend much of the remainder of their time in the nest smoothing and oiling their plumage. The parent birds remove all waste, depositing it far away from the little home, which is kept clean and sweet.
"I have seen kinglets feeding young in the nest as late as the last of June, but by the eighteenth or twentieth day of June, goldcrest families are usually foraging in the trees. As late as the middle of September 1912, I saw mature kinglets industriously feeding a large family of young birds in a seedling grove."
I can find no reference anywhere to the period of incubation or to the duration of life in the nest.
Plumages.--Miss Stanwood says that the small nestlings have "a few tufts of fine, gray down." The sexes are alike in the juvenal plumage, which Ridgway (1904) describes as follows: "Pileum brownish gray or grayish olive, margined laterally with a rather indistinct line of black; otherwise similar to adults, but hind neck concolor with back, etc., the color more brownish olive, and texture of plumage much looser." There is no orange or yellow in the crown of either sex.
The first winter plumage is acquired by a partial postjuvenal molt, involving all the contour feathers and the lesser wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings or the tail. The molt begins early in August, and after its completion the young birds are practically indistinguishable from the adults of their respective sexes. The young male has acquired the orange and yellow crown, bordered with black, and the young female has the yellow crown patch.
There is apparently no spring molt, and wear is not very conspicuous until late in the season. Year-old birds and adults have a complete postnuptial molt beginning in July. The fall and winter plumage is more brightly colored than the worn summer plumage, the upperparts being more decidedly olivaceous, and the underparts are strongly suffused with pale buffy-olive.
Food.--No comprehensive analysis of the food of the golden-crowned kinglet seems to have been made, but it apparently consists almost entirely of insects, their larvae and eggs, and other forms of minute animal life.
These items are obtained in various ways from different sources, but mainly from trees and shrubs. The kinglet feeds largely on bark beetles, scale insects, and the eggs of injurious moths and plant lice, which it obtains from the trunks, branches, and twigs of trees and bushes, mainly the coniferous trees.
Edward H. Forbush (1907) writes: "At Wareham, on Dec. 25, 1905, I watched the Gold-crest hunting its insect food amid the pines. The birds were fluttering about among the trees. Each one would hover for a moment before a tuft of pine 'needles,' and then either alight upon it and feed, or pass on to another. I examined the 'needles' after the kinglets had left them, and could find nothing on them; but when a bird was disturbed before it had finished feeding, the spray from which it had been driven was invariably found to be infested with numerous black specks, the eggs of plant lice. Evidently the birds were cleaning each spray thoroughly, as far as they went." Again, he saw kinglets feeding in the pines near his home, mainly on the trunks and the larger branches; they were feeding on the eggs of the aphids, which "were deposited in masses on the bark of the pines from a point near the ground up to a height of thirty-five feet. The trees must have been infested with countless thousands of these eggs, for the band of Kinglets remained there until March 25, almost three months later, apparently feeding most of the time on these eggs. When they had cleared the branches the little birds fluttered about the trunks, hanging poised on busy wing, like Hummingbirds before a flower, meanwhile rapidly pecking the clinging eggs from the bark."
W. L. McAtee (1926) says: "If we may apply to eastern conditions the findings of a study of the species in California, we may be sure that the Kinglet consumes little if any vegetable food, and that it gets numerous spiders as well as a variety of small insects principally of the hymenoptera, beetles, bugs, and flies. Moths, caterpillars, and small grasshoppers also are devoured. Forest pests taken are leaf beetles, leaf hoppers, plant lice, and scale insects." F. H. King (1883) says of nine specimens examined in Wisconsin, "two had eaten twelve small diptera; three, nine small beetles; one, five caterpillars; one a small chrysalid, and three, very small bits of insects, too fine to be identified." Junius Henderson (1927) says that it has been "seen feeding on locusts in Nebraska." Miss Stanwood mentioned in her notes that the kinglets, old and young, are very fond of the spruce bud moths and caterpillars, which are so destructive to the spruces in Maine.
Kinglets are expert flycatchers, taking small flying insects readily on the wing. Some observers have expressed surprise at seeing kinglets feeding on the ground, but it is not a rare occurrence. Francis H. Allen tells me that, when feeding on the ground, it progresses by surprisingly long hops. Miss Stanwood says in her notes that "the kinglet in winter finds considerable of his food on the snow under the trees; he even went under branches partly submerged by the snow and fed on the melted places close to the base of the trunk."
The golden-crowned kinglet has been observed apparently drinking the sap that flows from the fresh drillings of sap-sucking woodpeckers, but it may be that the birds are after the insects that are also attracted to such places. Francis Zirrer, of Hayward, Wis., has sent me the following note on the subject: "During the flow of maple sap the woodpeckers, especially the hairy, occasionally tap a tree. On a warm day, especially toward the end of the flow, sap thickens, ferments, and attracts many insects, mostly flies and small beetles, of which many stick to the syrupy fluid. Noticing a number of small fluttering forms in front of a tree trunk some 30 feet from the ground, I walked closer to investigate. To my surprise, there was a small flock of kinglets picking insects from the bark of the tree. In the course of the same afternoon and the following days, I found many more birds taking advantage of the bountiful supply; besides the two kinglets, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and a phoebe."
Milton P. Skinner (1928), referring to the winter food of this kinglet in North Carolina, writes: "Sometimes they hunt the opening blossoms of trees and shrubs to prey on the small insects attracted by the flowers, and quite often they look over the bases of the bunches of loblolly and long-leaf needles for the tiny insects that hide there. In spite of their almost universal insect hunt in winter, I noticed one Golden-crowned Kinglet fly over and take two bites from each of two persimmon fruits on January 1, 1927."
This is the only reference I can find to indicate that either this kinglet or its western race ever eats any vegetable food; this is strange, as the ruby-crowned kinglet takes a small amount of fruit and seeds. I have often seen golden-crowned kinglets foraging in the Japanese barberry bushes about my house; the bushes were full of bright red berries, but I could not see that the kinglets ever touched any of them. They were probably feeding on some form of insect life, too small for me to see. Incidentally, I have noticed that none of the birds seem to like these barberries, though the common, wild barberry is very popular.
Behavior.--Golden-crowned kinglets are tame and confiding little creatures. They pay but little attention to the close presence of humans, and even come flitting about on the low branches or in the bushes near us, with beady little eyes glistening below their glowing crowns, and frequently opening and closing their little wings with their characteristic quivering motion.
Two quotations will suffice to illustrate their tameness and friendliness. A. H. Wood (1884) relates this experience with them while he was on a boat in Michigan: "One morning we found our boat invaded by eight or ten of these birds. It was not long before they found their way into the cabin, attracted there by the large number of flies, and at dinner time they caused no little amusement and some annoyance by perching on the heads of passengers and on the various dishes which covered the table. I caught flies, which they would readily take from my hand with a quick flutter. I caught several, and even when in my hand, they manifested no fear, but lay quiet and passive." Cynthia Church (1927) found them very friendly in her garden; she writes: "On October 15, Golden-crowns became so tame that when I followed them quietly they allowed me to approach them and even to stroke them. Even when I patted and stroked their beautiful crest or parted their wings, they showed no fear. They even sat on my hands or lit on my coat. They were incredibly friendly."
Voice.--The golden-crowned kinglet is no such brilliant singer as the ruby-crowned, but it has a pretty little song at times. Aretas A. Saunders has given me the following description of it: "The song of the golden-crowned kinglet is much less musical and pleasing than that of the ruby-crowned, yet it bears a certain resemblance. The song is in two parts. The first part is a series of rather long, squeaky, very high-pitched notes, either all on the same pitch, or the pitch gradually rising. It is similar to the beginning of the ruby-crowned song, but higher pitched and with longer notes. My records show from two to nine notes in this part of the song. The second part is a series of very rapid, loud, harsh notes, descending in pitch, so different from the first part that it hardly seems to belong to the same song or bird. There are from four to nine notes in this part of the song, and the drop in pitch to the last note is sometimes more than an octave. A fairly typical song would be eeee, teeee, teeee, teeee, teeee, chititatatutup. The pitch of fourteen records in my collection varies from F'''' to D''. Individual songs vary considerably, especially in the last part.
"This song is rather rarely heard in the spring migration in April, but is commonly heard in June, or early July, on the breeding grounds. Twelve of my 14 records come from breeding birds in the Adirondacks, and the other two from migrating birds in Connecticut. In winter the common call is like the first part of the song, but the notes are shorter and fainter, and so high-pitched that the sound is difficult for many people to hear."
Francis H. Allen refers to the song in his notes as "a pleasing performance, beginning with a number of fine, high notes and containing a lower-pitched and mellow willy, willy, willy that is quite charming." On April 20, 1900, when my hearing was good, on the coast of Maine, I recorded in my notes a song of nine notes, of which I wrote that "the first three notes are the same as their winter notes, rather faint and lisping, uttered slowly; the second three are on a higher key, louder and fuller toned; the last three notes are on the descending scale, with increasing rapidity, but decreasing in volume, suggesting the last part of the chickadee's song." Miss Stanwood puts the song partly into words, which are rather expressive,"zee, zee, zee, zee, zee, why do you shilly-shally."
Her notes record the kinglets in song, occasionally as early as March 15, regularly from the middle of April, on through the breeding season, once as late as August 26, and occasionally in fall, September 26 and October 12. Professor Brooks tells me that, curiously enough, he has never heard the golden-crowned kinglet in full song in West Virginia, in spite of the fact that it breeds there abundantly.
Field marks.--The kinglet is one of our smallest birds, a tiny ball of fluffy plumage, olive and buffy-gray in color. The orange-and-yellow crown of the male and the yellow crown of the female, bordered with black, are quite distinctive. The orange center in the male's crest does not always show, but flashes out under excitement. Young birds of both sexes have no orange or yellow in the crown, and might be mistaken for ruby-crowned kinglets, but the ruby-crowned has a conspicuous light eye ring which the young golden-crowned lacks.
Enemies.--Probably only the smaller hawks and owls, such as the sharp-shinned hawk and the screech owl, would be likely to bother with such small fry as kinglets. The cowbird does not seem to have found access to its well-concealed nest but once (Friedmann, 1934), and it has no competitors for its nesting site. Harold S. Peters (1936) lists one louse, Philopterus incisus, and one fly, Ornithoica confluenta, as external parasites on the eastern golden-crowned kinglet.
James G. Needham (1909) shows some photographs of a number of golden-crowned kinglets that had become entangled in the hooks of the ripening heads on several clumps of burdocks; he says:
They were visible in all directions, scores of them sticking to the tops of the clumps on the most exposed clusters of heads. The struggle had ended fatally for all that I saw, and its severity was evidenced by the attitudes of their bodies and the disheveled condition of their plumage.
I examined a number of the burdock heads to determine what attraction had brought the Kinglets within range of the hooks, and found insect larvae of two species present in considerable abundance. Most abundant were the seed-eating larvae of an obscure little moth (Metzgeria lapella), but the larvae of the well-known burdock weevil were also present in some numbers. Doubtless, it was in attempting to get these larvae that the Kinglets (mostly young birds) were captured.
Winter.--In spite of its diminutive size, the golden-crowned kinglet is a hardy little mite and spends the winter in much of its summer range, though in reduced numbers, even as far north as Maine and Nova Scotia. Miss Stanwood says in her notes: "The kinglets were abundant during the severe winter of 1906 and 1907. When I went to distribute my food supply for the birds near the boiling spring in the woods, they followed me to the spring and back, sometimes gleaning from tree to tree, or hopping and running ahead of me over the snow. Undoubtedly, in very cold weather many of the kinglets perish for lack of sufficient food to keep the vital fires burning. The winter of 1906 and 1907 was a cruel winter for the birds."
With us, in Massachusetts, these little feathered gems are
among our most charming winter visitors, sometimes abundant but
often scarce or entirely absent. We usually find them in the
evergreen woods, pines or hemlocks, or in the cedar swamps where
they find more protection from the cold winds. We see them
flitting through the woods, gleaning from the lower branches, or
hovering close to the tree trunks in search of food; sometimes we
catch a glimpse of the golden crown, as the bird forages upon the
ground among the pine needles. Often they form jolly little roving
bands, with chickadees, a brown creeper or two, and perhaps a
downy woodpecker, adding cheer to the dark and dreary winter
woods. But they are not always confined to the coniferous woods;
they frequent mixed woods and open woods, where birches grow along
the woodland paths, and are often seen in orchards or in the
shrubbery of our home grounds and gardens. Wherever they are found
they are always a welcome addition to our winter bird life.
Golden-crowned Kinglet* Regulus satrapa [Eastern Golden-crowned Kinglet]
*Original Source: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. 1949. Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 196: 382-397. United States Government Printing Office