My first new bird of the new year: the prince of songbirds

I’ve had a ‘feather-ful’ new year so far; with time off work, its easier to get out and go for a walk see the birds. It was a gusty and cold but sunny day today and I was rewarded for my efforts with my first new bird of the year! And its only January 2nd! While I am not a big “lister” (in fact, my ebird account often collects dust…), I’m always excited to meet new birdies. Today’s star was the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and is, in fact, my first ever kinglet.

Ruby-crowned kinglet - my first ever!
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – my first ever!

The little bird popped out at me among the foliage, his feathers bright olive-green in the direct light of the morning sun. He moved quickly, never made a sound and did not seem to mind my presence much, like many of the birds at the park. They must be accustomed to city life.

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet: here you can really see the white eye ring.

The kinglet’s olive coloring reminded me of the Orange-Crowned Warbler so common here in the summer. And just like the warbler whose  orange crown is rarely seen, the kinglet’s ruby crown of his namesake is not always visible, either (Cornell).

Ruby-Crowned Kinglets look very similar to the Hutton’s Vireo and I was able to distinguish my kinglet by three things: the distinct white eye ring, bright yellow colouring on the wings and the black bar below the white wingbar. It also helps that the Hutton’s Vireo also has blue-grey legs which this bird clearly does not have.

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet: notice the yellow on the wings and the orange legs as well as a black bar below the white whingbar.

These kinglets winter along a sliver of the Pacific west coast from southern BC down to Mexico and much of the southern U.S. Their breeding grounds are mostly in the boreal forests of the northern states and Canada where they can nest in the tops of old conifers (Cornell). I hope the new year brings you all kinds of birds, both new and old! Perhaps you will see a prince of songbirds, a kinglet!