Cold weather munchkins to warm your heart
I have been watching these tiny birds in my front yard in Texas this winter, and they are quite entertaining. They are hyper little things, flitting about from branch to branch searching for little insects in the bark of the trees, pausing only long enough for me to catch the yellow tinge of their bellies and the distinctive white eye ring that at first made me think they might be flycatchers. I also thought they might be some type of warbler. It was only by chance that I saw them on a bird website and made a positive identification. Before this year I had only HEARD of kinglets, particularly the ruby-crowned’s cousin the golden-crowned kinglet in the book Winter World by Bernd Heinrich. I did not know these special little birds overwintered all across the western and southern US. They never venture into the northeast or midwest, which is the area I am most familiar with.
The ruby-crowned kinglet is one of the smallest songbirds in the USA, but it has some of the largest clutches of eggs — typically a dozen! They breed mainly in Canada and down into the US along the Rockies, and they spend the winter in the US and Mexico. Mostly insectivores, these tiny 4-inch birds also eat some fruits and seeds. Males, females, and juveniles all look pretty much the same with their yellowish or olive coloration and black and white wing bars. They all have the white eye ring but only the adult males sport the tiny patch of red feathers on top of their heads, which is often concealed by surrounding feathers.
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