It’s now mid-October and the parks are filled with tiny green birds flitting tirelessly from goldenrod to aster to red-osier dogwood to sugar maple. If you can see one clearly as it moves quickly from underside of leaf to twig, you may see it has a vivid white eye ring. From another angle, you may spot the hint of yellow along the sides of the wings. The wing bars also show up since the bird is otherwise mostly dusty-green and grey. Yes, the Ruby-crowned Kinglets are on their way south.
What Tiny Birds Hover While They Hunt?
In Ontario, there aren’t too many small birds that like to hover. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, of course, are the best at it. In fact, they make it look like it isn’t even work.
Yellow-rumped warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets don’t manage to make it look effortless. Instead, they make it look like the hard acrobatic work that it is. Still, few of the other tiny birds commonly hover so it makes a useful clue to add to identification. (Some larger birds, like Kestrels, Kingbirds and Belted Kingfishers hover, too.)
What Is This Ruby-crowned Kinglet Eating: Insects or Seeds?
Most of the Goldenrod around here is producing seed. That makes it difficult to tell at a glance whether the Kinglets are after the seeds or after something else that’s after the seeds.
The behaviour has a significant clue, though. If the Ruby-crowned was only after the seeds, it could perch atop the goldenrod and munch away, just like Goldfinches sit atop of thistles, Echinacea and Black-eyed Susans.
Instead, the Kinglets hover slightly below the seedy display and pluck quickly at something on the underside. Or they perch on a twig below the plant and leap up after something.
The AllAboutBirds website confirms that Kinglets primarily eat insects, spiders and other small creatures. They can and do eat some fruits and seeds but that’s not their main focus.
Given the rather unpleasantly high number of insects on Goldenrod, from aphids on up to Goldenrod Beetles, I’m sure that the Kinglets are finding lots to eat.
So if you see a tiny, smaller than a Chickadee, grey-green bird hopping at your goldenrod, you could be watching a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, too. I hope you find them as entertaining as I do!
- Is This a Juvenile Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird?
- Birds Know a Spring Secret
- What Yellow Beetle with Black Spots Is Lurking on the Goldenrod?
Have the Ruby-crowned Kinglets moved through your park yet this fall? Please share your sighting with a comment.