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Key Information

Scientific Name: Regulus regulus

Bird Family: Kinglets and Firecrests

UK Breeding Birds: 610,000 territories

UK Conservation Status: Green

The goldcrest bird, scientifically known as Regulus regulus, is a feathered marvel that graces the woodlands of the United Kingdom with its presence. Despite its modest size, goldcrests are lively birds with distinctive features.

What does a goldcrest look like?

The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in the UK, measuring only about 8.5 to 9.5 cm in length. Its upperparts are a shade of olive-green, while the underparts are paler, often with a yellowish tinge. The most striking feature is the vivid gold-orange crest on its head. The crest is bordered by black, giving it a distinctive, crowned appearance. Around the eye is a thin white ring, adding to its overall delicacy and charm. Males and females look very similar, making it challenging to distinguish between them based on appearance alone.

What do goldcrests eat?

Goldcrests are primarily insectivores, meaning they feed on insects and other invertebrates. Their diet consists of a variety of small, crawling creatures found in trees and foliage. Live or dried mealworms are a rich source of protein and are highly favoured by goldcrests. Insect and mealworm suet treats are also excellent feed and loved by this bird. Suet is high in fat and protein, providing valuable energy, especially in colder months. Small seeds like millet and sunflower hearts can also be part of a goldcrest’s diet.

What to feed goldcrests?

Feeding garden birds, including goldcrests, can be a rewarding way to support local wildlife. Their lively personality and vibrant colours will bring excitement to any outdoor area. Here are some suitable food options for Goldcrests:

Where do goldcrests nest?

Goldcrests do not use artificial nest boxes. They are known for their preference for coniferous and mixed woodlands, especially those with trees like spruce, fir, and pine. These trees provide ample cover and a rich source of insects, which make them ideal nesting sites for goldcrests.

When do goldcrests nest?

The nesting season begins in early April for goldcrests. They construct their nests in the outer branches of trees, often near the trunk. The nests are usually well-hidden amidst the dense foliage, making them challenging to spot. The goldcrest is skilled at using natural materials such as moss, feathers, and even spider silk to build their nests, resulting in a well-crafted and secure structure.

How many eggs do goldcrests lay?

A typical clutch size for goldcrests ranges from six to eleven eggs. The female is responsible for incubating the eggs, which can last around 14 days. After the incubation period, the eggs hatch, giving rise to tiny, naked chicks. Both parents are involved in feeding the chicks. They forage for insects and small invertebrates to provide a nutritious diet for their young.

When do goldcrests fledge?

Young goldcrests typically fledge (leave the nest) after about 20 days. At this point, they are capable of short flights. Even after fledging, the parents continue to provide care and feed the fledglings for a period until they become more independent.

What is the smallest British bird?

The smallest bird native to the British Isles is the goldcrest. Adults measure approximately 8.5 to 9.5 cm in length and weigh just 5g (which is the same as a 20p coin!) This tiny bird is known for its striking gold-orange crest, making it easily recognizable despite its diminutive size.

Are goldcrests rare in UK?

Goldcrests are not considered rare in the UK. They are one of the most widespread bird species in the country. They can be found throughout the UK, including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Goldcrests are well-adapted to various habitats, including coniferous and mixed woodlands, gardens, parks, and hedgerows. They are also known to visit urban areas, especially during winter, when food sources may be more readily available in gardens.