Ruby-crowned Kinglet – The Self-winding Music Box

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Beginning in the first few days of April, Ruby-crowned Kinglets move northward through the St. Louis region on their way up to their eventual nesting grounds of the Canadian boreal forests.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Moving through our area this early allows for nice opportunities for watching and photography before our deciduous trees have begun leafing out.  Although described by Pete Dunne as “A bird that moves like spit on a skillet”, if patient, the nature photographer can find brief periods where even these birds will stop and have a look around.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
How on earth did these birds get their name?

When flitting through the branches looking for their insect prey, the intense scarlet-colored crown patch can be difficult to spot.  But with camera and patience, this spot that the birds use to aggressively communicate with other Kinglets, can be seen.

The Music Box
The Music Box

The song of the RCKI I find to be quite special.  These guys typically start with a couple or three wind-up notes that lead to a wren-like jumble of rapidly progressing complexity.  A welcome sound of spring.

See you in the fall...
See you in the fall…

The Kinglets have mostly removed themselves from the Show-Me State by now.  They will return this fall following their nesting season and there will be folks with lenses of all sorts looking to find that ruby-red crown.




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