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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ian Routley
Photo © Ian Routley

Photo: Ian Routley
Breeding evidence - Golden-crowned Kinglet
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Golden-crowned Kinglet
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Golden-crowned Kinglet
Elevation plot

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Golden-crowned Kinglet
Regulus satrapa
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
0 - 2109 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
339 321 1425 1173
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 -2.17 (-3.35 - -0.982)Medium
Canada1970 - 2012 0.73 (-0.405 - 1.91)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
0.140.07 0.140.18 0.28
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
0.140.06 0.070.2 0.21
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.190.11 0.14  0.35

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
0.080.08 0.2
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce

Characteristics and Range One of our tiniest songbirds, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is known for moving rapidly in small flocks flitting high up through the trees, and giving extremely high-pitched calls that most of us lose the ability to hear with age. It is a bird of cool, moist, coniferous forests on the Pacific coast and in mountain and boreal regions. It has been expanding its breeding range southward at lower elevations into conifer forests in central and eastern North America. Two subspecies are found in British Columbia: R. s. olivaceus, which breeds west of the Coast Mountains and winters coastally south to California; and R. s. apache, which breeds from Alaska south through the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico, and winters from southern British Columbia south over the breeding range (Swanson et al. 2012).

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a widespread breeder throughout most of the province. Campbell et al. (1997) noted that its known breeding distribution was fairly scattered throughout the southern quarter of the province. The Atlas filled many gaps within the known breeding distribution in the province; this was likely due to increased effort.

The Probability of Observation map defines two areas where the species is most likely to be found: in the Georgia Depression and Coast and Mountains; and in the Sub-Boreal Interior and Southern Interior Mountains ecoprovinces. Data from point counts reveal a clear dichotomy in abundance patterns between these two areas and the two subspecies, with the greatest abundance of coastal R. s. olivaceus below 250 m, and the highest abundance of interior R. s. apache from 1,250 to 1,750 m. Kinglets are most abundant in the moister Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone in the Coast and Mountains ecoprovince; lower abundances of similar values occur in the other three favoured ecoprovinces, the drier Coastal Douglas-fir, and interior spruce- and hemlock-dominated biogeoclimatic zones. This contrasts slightly with Campbell et al. (1997), who noted the species was most numerous in the Georgia Depression.

Nesting is associated with forests of spruce (Picea species), hemlock (Tsuga species), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) or Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii); dense old growth or advanced second growth is preferred.

Conservation and Recommendations There has been a significant decrease in abundance in British Columbia since 1970 (Environment Canada 2014), consistent with trends in other western parts of its range (Swanson et al. 2012). Although there is currently little conservation concern for this very abundant species overall (Environment Canada 2011), the Golden-crowned Kinglet has a strong affinity for old-growth conifer forests for nesting and, therefore, is sensitive to logging and other habitat disturbances; that may explain population declines in the western portion of the range (Swanson et al. 2012).

Art Martell

Recommended citation: Martell, A. 2015. Golden-crowned Kinglet in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [14 Jun 2024]

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