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Posts Tagged ‘kinglet’

It is quite a challenge to get a clear shot of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula). Why? Ruby-crowned Kinglets are one of the smallest birds in my area, about 4 inches (10 cm) in length and 0.2-0.3 ounces (5 to 10 g) in weight. Additionally they are almost constantly moving. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology described them as, “restless, acrobatic birds that move quickly through foliage, typically at lower and middle levels. They flick their wings almost constantly as they go.”

I have spotted these tiny birds multiple times this season but only recently did I manage to get some reasonably clear images of them during a visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This images show pretty well their prominent white eye-rings and the beautiful pattern on their wings. Unfortunately I did not get a glimpse of the the “ruby crown” of a male kinglet, a characteristic that is only occasionally visible.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although they are barely larger than the hummingbirds that migrate south when the weather turns cold, Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa) spend their winters in my home area of Northern Virginia. In addition to being tiny, Golden-crowned Kinglets often forage high in the trees, which makes them really tough to photograph.

I was really happy to capture this image of a Golden-crowned Kinglet on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it was feeding on a cluster of poison ivy berries. Looking through the branches you can see the bird’s lemon-yellow “crown” and the the beautiful pattern on its wings.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I feel lucky when I am able to capture an unobstructed shot of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula). I feel doubly fortunate when I manage to get a shot of the tiny red “crown” that is responsible for the bird’s name. Last week I spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “the male’s brilliant ruby crown patch usually stays hidden—your best chance to see it is to find an excited male singing in spring or summer.” I have seen some photos of Ruby-crowned Kinglets with their red feathers standing on end like a Mohawk hairstyle, but I have not yet seen that phenomenon in person. Spring is almost here, though, and I will keep my eyes open to see if I can spot an excited male singing kinglet. (I recommend that you repeat the words “singing kinglet” several times and you will almost certainly end up with a smile on your face.)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Kinglets are tiny birds, about 4 inches (10 cm) in length, and always seem to be in constant motion in heavily vegetated areas. As a result, they tend to be really hard to photograph. Last week at Occoquan Bay National Refuge I was thrilled to be able to capture images of both kinglet species in our area—the Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula).

It is not hard to guess that the bird in the first shot is a Golden-crowned Kinglet. I was never able to get close to the kinglet, but it did give me a clear view of its beauty when it perched momentarily on a small branch. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the second image has a more typical pose, surrounded by vines and branches. I shot over a dozen images of this little bird and this is the only one in which its head is up and visible.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I was thrilled to capture these images of a cute little Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa). Golden-crowned Kinglets are really small, only 3.1-4.3 inches (8-11 cm) in length and weighing 0.1-0.3 ounces (4-8 g), and they very active, which makes them hard to spot and even harder to photograph.

The kinglet posed so nicely that I don’t even have to explain why it is called “Golden-crowned.” In fact, it was the bright yellow streak on its head that initially caught my eye and helped me as I tracked the tiny bird as it moved in and out of the vegetation.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was shocked the first time that a friend identified little white-colored berries like those in these photos as poison ivy berries. I had no idea that poison ivy plants produced berries and, upon learning that they did, I assumed they must be poisonous. I was both right and wrong. These little berries are definitely poisonous for humans, but they are an important food source for many birds during the winter. It is amazing to me how birds that eat almost exclusively bugs during the warm months can switch to a plant-based diet in the winter, but it helps to ensure their survivability.

Last week I spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) as it poked about among several clusters of poison ivy berries. The kinglet was in constant motion and was mostly in the shadows, but I was able to capture these images. I like the way that you can see some of the details of the vines wrapped around the branches and the way that the distant branches provide some shadowy forms in the background.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At this time of the year I have to work hard to get photographs of birds. If I am lucky, I will spot a Bald Eagle or another raptor, but most of the time I walk slowly down the trails, looking and listening for small birds. I know that they are there, but even with the leaves gone from most of the trees, the birds often remain hidden from view.

One of my favorites is the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), like this one that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Maybe it is the effect of the season, but this sparrow always makes me think of Santa Claus. With the white “beard” and the distinctive yellow stripe over the eye, this sparrow is also relatively easy to identify, a real plus considering how many sparrow species are similar in appearance to each other.

An even smaller bird is the tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), which is about 4 inches in length (10 cm) and weighs only 0.2-0.3 ounces (5-10 g). This one was bouncing in and out of the vegetation so much that I thought I would never get a clear shot of it. Eventually I was more or less successful. What a sweet little bird.

 

White-throated Sparrow

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some birds are so round in appearance that they look more like cartoons than real birds. That was certainly the case with this tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa) are tiny, but they can be mighty fierce. This one that I spotted yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seemed to be sending me a definite  “Don’t mess with me” message with its intense glare in my direction.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Despite his diminutive size, this male Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) seemed to have plenty of attitude when I spotted him on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Size is relative, of course, but by almost any standard Golden-crowned Kinglets are tiny. The are about 3-4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in length and weigh only 0.1 to 0.3 ounces (4 to 8 gm). Their small size and hyperactivity make them a fun challenge to photograph.

I particularly like this bird’s combative stance and the way that it provides us with such a good view of its bright yellow “crown.” It is one of the rare occasions when I got an unobstructed shot of a kinglet—normally there are branches blocking at least part of the view.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last weekend I again visited the bird banding station at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and was thrilled to see the friendly folks there process a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa), which are among the smallest birds in our area. Bands come in all different sizes and kinglets require the absolutely smallest-sized bands.

Here are some shots of the encounter including the initial processing of the bird; the actual banding of the bird (note its tiny legs); examination of the feathers of the bird; and the moment before the release of one of the little birds by a young visitor.

I love the fact that I was able to get so much closer to the bird and see so many wonderful details about its feathers and coloration than I would ever be able to do in the wild. As the old saying goes, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa) are not woodpeckers, but a tiny kinglet that I spotted this past weekend at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seemed to be doing its best imitation of one as it pecked away at a little branchlet.

For those of you who are not familiar with Golden-crowned Kinglets, they are really, really small birds. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, these kinglets are 3.1-4.3 inches in length ( 8-11 cm) and weigh only 0.1-0.3 oz (4-8 gm). It is always exciting to spot a kinglet and always a challenge to get a unobstructed, in-focus shot of one.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I photographed this cute little Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The angle and exaggerated proportions make this kinglet look almost like a Disney cartoon to me.

If you have never seen one, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are tiny, even smaller than chickadees. They seem restless and are in perpetual motion, hopping from branch to branch and flicking their wings almost constantly, so I am happy whenever I am able to photograph one.

I can’t help but smile when I look at the photo and it almost looks to me like the tiny bird is smiling.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Under normal circumstances, Rub-crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula) are described as “stocky” or “chubby” or “compact.” In cold weather, when they fluff up their feathers to retain heat, they amazingly grow even rounder in shape. These round balls of fluff bounce from branch to branch as they frenetically forage for food, reminding me of the pinball games that I used to play in my youth.

 

I was thrilled last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when this male Ruby-crowned Kinglet paused for a split-second on a branch and I was able to capture this image. I love the tilt of his head, the contrast between the curves of his body and the angular lines of his bill and wings, and the wonderful little details like the glimpse of his ruby crown and the peek  at his tiny little feet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Monday, I was having a nice little portrait session with a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but I wanted more than just a glimpse of his “ruby crown.” Amazingly, he bowed in my direction to make my wish come true.

For those of you who may not be familiar with kinglets, they are tiny birds that are even smaller than chickadees. During this past fall, I became aware that they spend their winters in my area and I have been hunting them ever since. Both the Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the Golden-crowned Kinglet are energetic and elusive and rarely sit still long enough for me to get a shot. When it comes to the “ruby crown,” only the male has it and it is only occasionally visible. That is why I was ecstatic to be able to get such a clear shot of the ruby crown of this kinglet.

Wishes do come true—maybe a ruby crown is better than ruby slippers.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is exciting to photograph big birds, but it many ways it is even more of a challenge to get decent shots of the tiny frenetic ones, like this Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) that I photographed yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are really small, about 2 to 4 inches in length (8 to 11 cm), which is smaller than a chickadee and larger than a hummingbird. They seem to like to forage deep within the branches of the vegetation, so it was really tough to get an unobstructed shot of one.

I decided yesterday to try shooting with a monopod, which helped me to stay focused on this particular bird as it moved about and be ready when it perched for a split second in the open. My Tamron 150-600mm lens is a little heavy and I think that it helped my steadiness to have the additional support of the monopod, though it did feel a little constraining. I think that I will start using the monopod regularly now and see if my images tend to get sharper.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was so dark and gray this morning that I initially couldn’t even see what was fluttering about in the underbrush not far from where I was standing. Finally it perched and eventually I was able identify it as a Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa), one of the few birds that I have encountered that is even smaller than a chickadee—a bit over three inches (8 cm) in length and a weight of .2 ounces (6 g).

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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