Here I sit in absolute frustration. The weather is gorgeous out here in the Midwest and I’m stuck inside looking out the window like a kid who broke his arm at the start of summer vacation and wondering how long he has to wait to go play ball with his friends. Now, I didn’t break my arm so that’s good, but my evil doctor assuredly conspiring with my wife has put a stall on my training plans due to the neck surgery. Want to drive me nuts, warm up a winter day to 70 degrees and then tell me I can’t strap on the Asics and pound some pavement. ARRRRGGGGHHHH. The only upside is I hit my half marathon training peak (12 miles) a few days before the surgery so hoping the fall off is minimal (fingers crossed). Of course, there is another upside to my sit time – more opportunities for posts!
Getting right to it.. meet Mr. Golden
Pretty cute eh!?! This Golden-Crowned Kinglet was shot back in April of 2014. Yes, I’m waaay behind, but slowly coming to terms with my latency. This colorful specimen was photographed in the middle of Jubilee State Park. For those familiar with the area, the exact location was a small clearing off the road that leads to the back part of the campground. The easiest way to get there is to walk down the pond trail about a third of the way and then hang a left. You might encounter some thick brush, but if you follow the deer trails it will lead you to the clearing which actually sits on a bit of a bluff. This is usually a treasure trove of field birds enjoying the spoils of the open brush with close proximity to the safety at the surrounding tree line. It might be a bit noisy getting to the spot, so you might have to give some time for the birds to get comfortable again – a little patience usually brings a target rich environment.
Hit the jump to see a few more images of this Golden-Crowned Kinglet.
This Golden was keeping an eye on me, but was pretty calm knowing the Beast pointed in its direction. This provided me ample opportunity to get a number of images in the tin – especially one angle that I was desperately trying to get – the actual crown. The true signature characteristic of this particular bird. As you can tell from the lead pictures, this objective was achieved with glowing success and yes, I embarrassed myself and chimped at the screen while out in the field – Thankfully no one was there to witness that, since I generally try to avoid that (my brother Ron will confirm that hehehe). Remember, “Friends don’t let friends chimp in the field”. The minute you do, that bird you were just taking a photograph of will be doing backflips and handstands and you will have NOTHING to show for it.
The reason for the specific shot is to improve on a previous set of Golden shots that were pretty poor (link here). Those shots were taken at Chain O’ Lakes state park and were a looooong way off. Basically the Beast was stretched to its limits making for a very soft product that left for some difficult IDing. I counted it as my +1 back then, but I can now, without a doubt, say the Golden is officially checked. To be honest, that is the great thing about bird photography. You can still have a productive day even if you do not see anything new – just more chances to improve on your gallery collection.
Since the shot above shows it so well, the other field identification I use when the crown isn’t visible is the unique barring on the side wing. The yellow highlights with the strong black lines on the wing are accented by a blush cross bar that cuts almost perpendicular to those markings. Very distinct and since the Kinglets do not always display their crowns (Ruby or Golden), this is another quick way to help deduce in the field. I am also always intrigued by the spindle like legs leading to some wicked talons – these are much harder to see in the field since they blend in so well with the surrounding limbs etc. The top shot and the one below show the legs against the sky background making them easier to see. Adding in the final shot for two specific reasons.
First, Ron is always giving me a hard time because I usually do not provide enough good angles to make an easy ID. That said, Ron often forgets how hard it is to hand hold the Beast hehehe. The other reason is because it does add another important characteristic. See that little reddish colored spot just below the black crown. That tells me this particular specimen is probably a male. My Sibley reference doesn’t really mention it, but both my Stokes and Peterson did note that the additional reddish coloring signifies the male where the female just has the yellow.
Hope you enjoyed my latest offering – pretty happy I can go darken that +1 mark in my list.
2 thoughts on “Crown Me”
Wow!!! You took many angles and got all the salient features! The gold crown is fantastic, and I’m not sure I’ve ever really seen it. I did not know about the males having the reddish spot just back of the crown, either.
It looks like this was a very cooperative bird. I went looking for some facts on the Golden-Crowned Kinglet, and I found that they prefer conifers, except sometimes other trees in winter as in this case, and often hang upside down. Also, Audubon says “Male defends nesting territory by singing. In aggressive encounters with other males, he may lean far forward and down with crown feathers raised, wings and tail flicking while he sings.”
Thanks for the multi-faceted pics!
I thought you would appreciate the different angles – every once in awhile I stumble on a subject that is extremely cooperative. Still stoked the crown was so visible – the previous ones were pretty dull looking. Thanks for the additional facts. Unfortunately, I cannot verify the “often” element to hanging upside down. The specimen here did not do that at all – sounds like a behavior I should look for in future outings.
Thanks for the comment – hopefully we can track down a nicely crowned one for you on our upcoming trip to Chain ‘O Lakes.