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Posts Tagged ‘ruby-crowned kinglet’

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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Sometimes in my photos I try to capture a feeling and this recent image of an elusive Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge speaks to me of the beauty and fragility of spring.

Ruby-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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