The Tiniest Kings - Ruby-Crowned and Gold-Crowned Kinglets
I feel their pain. Not only are my fingers short, so are my legs. I'm wearing a "petite" bathrobe that is slightly too long. When the Golden-crowned Kinglet hit the window, I leaped to its rescue and almost fell on the floor, hobbled by the hem of the robe. My inseam is only twenty seven inches. To buy pants that don't drag on the ground, I have to shop in obscure places. I can't walk in to a store and buy off the rack and expect a positive outcome. Even when a garment says "short" or "petite" on the label, I can't assume that means short enough for me. Lately, I've been buying pants at Denim & Company, an online QVC store. Because I have found this source for pants that fit perfectly, I have anxieties that suddenly, the next time I need a new pair, Denim & Company will have vanished. It is a universal rule that when you find a product that you love and become dependent upon, it will cease to be available. I appreciate many of the challenges these precious birds face out there in the wild. I wonder if the Kinglets have problems while crown shopping. Is there a crown outlet somewhere amidst the vast malls of New Jersey ? If a Kinglet wears a crown that is too big, thus slipping on its head, it could be fatal. My crown has slipped a few times nearly killing me. I get it.
Kinglets have an elongated fourth, hind toe for suspending from branches. However, this still doesn't make them good at pole dancing. They perform in the tree tops preferring mixed woods. The Golden-crowned especially likes the tops of conifers, though I often see them in birches and alders. Both kinglets are insect eaters. They will also eat the eggs of insects and the pulp of berries. Their rapid metabolism and small size mandate that they eat constantly, even while nest building. Kinglets that can't eat can lose a third of their body weight in twenty minutes and may starve to death in an hour.They flit and twiddle around at the ends of branches, hovering as they glean bugs from the leaves. Ruby-crowned kinglets are recognizable by their constant wing flicking. Keeping the crown firmly on the head is an imperative during this kind of acrobatic food hunting. They are fast moving, energetic birds that are hard to photograph. They don't sit still for studio work very well, unless stunned like the Golden-crowned shown here.
Kinglets aren't endangered, though some studies suggest population declines due to habitat loss in some areas. Many of them, though not truly migratory, move further south from their breeding areas in the winter months. But, many of them stay here. They eat insects in the tree tops all winter and especially fancy the caterpillars of moths and snow fleas. Rumor has it that during the winter, they wash the bugs in their mugs down with single malt Scotch. For me to stay in the top of a spruce tree for the winter, it would take Glenfiddich. And, you could keep the crown.
And, Dr. Herb Wilson, Judy Scher, Robeta Lane, AnnieO, Kristen Lindquist, Julia, Sean Smith, Sharon F. and Joel Wilcox for information and resources.