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Sutro Bird Watcher: Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Grab Your Binoculars!

December is here and with winter, migrating birds are arriving on Mt. Sutro. This month the ruby-crowned kinglet is an active jewel to see. The ruby-crowned kinglet is a very small bird. It might be heard before being seen in the shrub as it makes its characteristic staccato two note call, sounding like two strokes of a Selectric typewriter.

The ruby-crowned kinglet is found in scrub, looking for insects. It may travel in mixed flocks, a kinglet or two, traveling with the local chestnut-backed chickadees or with bushtits. This is a bird that will not be found at a seed bird feeder.

You won’t hear the ruby-crowned kinglet’s mating call now. In spring and summer the kinglet’s song is a loud, melodious warble. That song is saved for spring-time song while this kinglet is north and throughout much of Canada, preparing to mate and lay eggs. Now the two-part contact call is heard as the kinglet gleans for insects, ingesting protein-rich bugs as he or she spends the winter in Mt. Sutro shrubbery or trees.