Ruby-crowned Kinglet

In our neighborhood grows a beautiful Cascalote tree. When I walked by on a chilly morning recently I saw hundreds of showy yellow blossoms had unfolded at the ends of the branches, and that the tree was alive with tiny birds.

Usually tiny birds around flowers are hummingbirds or Verdins, both of whom eat nectar and insects, but the one that caught my eye on this day was neither.  As I paused beneath the tree, it dipped its head and a slash of red gleamed on its crown.

This was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and he was in constant motion, hopping from bloom to bloom and flicking his wings. These birds eat insects, perhaps it was ants or aphids attracted to the sweet blooms that the kinglets and Verdins were eating.  Only adult males have the red crown patch which is flashed when the bird is excited.  Sometimes the ruby coloring is not visible at all.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets spend their summers in spruce and fir forests in the Northwestern United States and across Canada.  In Arizona they can be found in the northern parts of the state where coniferous trees grow.  In fall, Ruby-crowned Kinglets migrate to warmer areas, which is why I saw this one enjoying the feast at the Cascalote tree. 

Photo courtesty Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas
Winter blooming Caesalpinia cacalaco

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