I caught (in pixels) this Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Lost Lake Park just north of Fresno last weekend, when we spent an afternoon there with visiting friends (including the biology colloquium speaker last week). Kinglets (Regulus spp.) are among my favorite warblers in north America, revealing my Old World bias – for they are the closest relatives on these shores to the Phylloscopus Leaf Warblers I spent almost a decade chasing during graduate school. Indeed, Regulus were classified as within the same family, Sylvidae, as the Phylloscopus, but now have their own family Regulidae. I first encountered the Kinglets’ Asian congener cousins, the Rubycrest and Goldcrest among the forests of the Himalaya where I strove to catch a glimpse of their “crests” and learnt to listen to them to tell them apart from so many other little green jobs flitting about restlessly among the dense foliage often high up in the canopy! That was over 20 years ago, and I’m still fascinated by the lives of these wee creatures (although I haven’t studied them formally for a while – maybe its time to resume?). For wee they may be, indeed (weighing a mere 6 grams or so!), but they are quite capable of long-distance flight! Like so many of their Sylviid cousins, these Ruby-crowned Kinglets are also migratory, breeding all they way up north from Alaska to Newfoundland, and down into the conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada in California, and wintering at southern latitudes and lower elevations across north America. Around here in the San Joaquin Valley, they just showed up a couple of weeks ago and will hang around until April or so, in all kinds of tree-filled habitat, ranging from the “natural” riverine forests to urban parks to backyards, and even parking lots (see image below!).
I like having them around, and thought I’d share the above and a few more images below the fold with you on this friday when I’m off campus on furlough for the day!
Caught in flight at Lost Lake Park
A shy Kinglet – this is how you glimpse them most often!
But not too shy of taking on a challenge! Although this one is unfortunately boxing at shadows we throw up in our strange habitats! I found this bird in a parking lot in Los Banos a few years ago.
Finally at rest atop the conquered foe!