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The Goldcrest

The Goldcrest ,  Regulus regulus is Britain’s smallest bird at just 9cm in length, and weighs in at just 5.5g . If not for the fiery orange stripe along its head, the Goldcrest would be a somewhat mute-looking bird, a dull greyish-green plumage and a single stripe along the crown of the bird.  Male and female bird look very similar , the most distinctive difference is the crown of the male Goldcrest, which has a tendency to become more prominent during mating displays. The male will bow its head and raise its coloured crest in a bid to attract a female mate during the breeding season.

Goldcrests are resident in the UK all year round and can be best observed among pine forests and very occasionally in gardens over winter. Goldcrests can be hard to spot due not only to their size but also the way they move and climb around trees; one sure way to locate a Goldcrest is to listen to its song, especially when it is part of a group. The collective, high-pitched shrill which is very quiet from a single bird, can help you find them. We are luck to have this shy little bird visit the meadow hide every now and then , but its always a fleeting visit.

Juveniles appear from late April onwards and are identical to the adults apart from having a totally plain greyish green head and pale bill.

Goldcrests begin their breeding process in late April and produce a clutch of eggs of between nine and eleven; in fact, Goldcrests are considered to be avid nesters, beginning a second clutch before the first has fledged.  To find a Goldcrest nest, look for spruce or fir trees and a nest that is well balanced in a hammock position on the outer twigs. The nest is a neat, cup-shaped affair and made from moss, lichens, spiders’ webs and feathers. The eggs are approximately 1.4cm by 1.1cm and are smooth, non-glossy and coloured white with brown speckles.

Goldcrests are avid eaters of insects, spiders and moth eggs. Their beaks have evolved to be thin and pointed, a tough and able instrument with which to pick out insects from among dense pine needles. Other favoured food includes caterpillars, bugs, flies and springtails.

Look out for them in number over autumn and winter, as their population tends to increase significantly. This inflation occurs when flocks of Goldcrests from abroad join our native stock from the eastern coasts of Scandinavia. The total recorded number of resident UK breeding pairs is 610,000 and over winter this number can balloon to as much as five million birds.

Conservation status

Classified as Amber in the UK under birds of conservation concern . as with most wildlife in the uk the Goldcrest is protected under the wildlife and countryside act , 1981.


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