Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Regulus satrapa
Range Map

The Golden-Crowned Kinglet has a wide distribution across North America, but is often a hard bird to find. We usually see it at high elevations in coniferous woodlands. In summer, many of these birds migrate to southern Canada. Some Golden-Crowned Kinglets remain on territories in coastal southern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the northeastern USA and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Those birds breeding in southern Canada migrate south and spend winters across most of the USA, some even into northeastern Mexico. South central Mexico hosts a nonmigratory population of these birds.

Despite a relatively brief breeding season, Golden-Crowned Kinglets often raise two broods a season. Considering typical clutches are eight eggs, this is quite a feat. As soon as the first brood fledges, the male takes over the care and feeding duties, while the female incubates the second set of eggs.

Today’s science recognises six subspecies of Golden-Crowned Kinglets:

  • R. s. olivaceus breeds west of the Cascade Range from coastal southern Alaska to southern Oregon and Northern California.
  • R. s. amoenus breeds from Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula to central Yukon (Canada), and south to the Rocky Mountains.
  • R. s. satrapa breeds from Alberta to Newfoundland (Canada), and south through New England and the Appalachian Mountains as far as Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • R. s. apache breeds in southern Arizona, and has been recorded in San Diego County.
  • R. s. aztecus is resident in central and southern Mexico.
  • R. s. clarus is resident in southern Mexico.

I first met these birds while working to collect images for the San Diego County Bird Atlas in 2004. Technically, I found them a few miles north of the San Diego-Riverside county border, but the book’s principal author, Phil Unitt, agreed the subspecies I would find there should be the same as those birds in San Diego County. I didn’t meet these birds again until 2015 in southern Oregon while driving on forestry roads over the Siskiyou Mountains.

8 Photos

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