The Kinglet and I

Yes, I’m Yul Birder (do some research.  It’ll be funny when you get the reference) and I’m here to tell you a story.  It is actually a story at this point, because it’s one of those things that I forgot to post when it actually happened.

So anyway, about three weeks ago, before most of the trees on Selwyn were budding, I was walking home.  Luckily, the story doesn’t end there.  It wouldn’t be very entertaining if it did.  Walking home…the weather was beginning to change and it was a nice, spring-ish late afternoon early evening.  As I was walking past some of the small willow oaks not that far from the campus of Queens, I spotted a tiny little bird in the top of one of those small trees.  As I got closer, he got all feisty with me.  The bird actually came down to the branches at about eye level and began some scolding calls and he started posturing, too.  He lowered his head, aiming his beak towards the ground and showed off the nice, bright red and yellow patch on the top of his head.  It was a pissy little Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Now these birds aren’t actually going to do their breeding, locally.  He was either a winter visitor here, or someone just passing through from farther south on his way to his breeding grounds.  Why he decided to scold me, I’ll never know.  Maybe I look like a (VERY large) kinglet? Maybe I look like Deborah Kerr?  Who knows?  Either way, he gave me a nice show.

There was no female with him on the day that I saw him and that’s not so surprising.  In Ruby-crowned Kinglets, males begin their trip to the breeding grounds long before the females.  They will often arrive and then fight with each other to establish territories and encourage the later-arriving females to join them when they get there.

Swanson, D.L., E.T. Liknes, and K.L Dean. 1999.  Differences in migratory timing and energetic condition among sex/age classes in migrant Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Wilson Bulletin 111:  61-69

Like the movie, this little guy was really just putting on a show for me on his stop-over.  Definitely worth seeing.


About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
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