Sunday sighting: Golden-crowned Kinglets in Holyoke

(c) Greg Saulmon 2013

(c) Greg Saulmon 2013

A small group of Golden-crowned Kinglets brought a little color to an otherwise gloomy day. I photographed the one above behind the factory that was once home to the Gill division of American Writing Paper, between Water Street and the Connecticut River.

The tiny birds — weighing about as much as two pennies — are one of the miracles of animal survival. Somehow, they can withstand the freezing winter nights of the north, huddling together in conifers.

What else do they do to survive? From an episode of BirdNote:

Bernd Heinrich, a biologist at the University of Maine, tried to answer that question. He found that the kinglets move through the forest in small flocks and feed constantly, at almost one peck per second, throughout the short day. By this activity, they take in enough tiny caterpillars to keep their bodies going. [“Kinglets in Winter,” Dennis Paulson]

Heinrich’s 2003 book, Winter World, explores how a number of species weather the winter. Kinglets, it turns out, stick out the season of scarce food by relying on a species of moth larvae that spends the winter on tree branches instead of underground.

For more on Golden-crowned Kinglets, see Vermont blogger Chris Patrick’s excellent post on the species.

1 comment
  1. Roger_Paw :-D said:

    Wow, you’ve been having some great birding lately! Gorgeous photos! Thanks for all you do!

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