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Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

This dainty species with a striking striped head is the UK's smallest bird.

Scientific name: Regulus regulus

Family: Sylviidae (warblers and allies)

Appearance

Head: both sexes display the characteristic crest which gives this species its name, however the crest is a yellow colour in females and a brighter orange in males. Either side of the crest is a black stripe. The head itself is a green-grey colour and the bill is pointed. 

Wings: has distinct wing-bars of a whitish colouration. 

Body: round in appearance, it is green in colour with lighter more yellow underparts. 

Where to spot

A widespread species across the UK, it can be seen mainly in coniferous woodland, but, when the breeding season is over, will venture into different areas where suitable vegetation is present.

Feeding

Small invertebrates such as flies and spiders.

Breeding

Nesting usually starts in April, and the female will lay a clutch of six to eight eggs. The nest is rounded in shape and is delicately built in a conifer tree using spiders’ webs, moss and lichen. The young will fledge when they are around 18 days old.

Facts

  • On average, the goldcrest is slightly smaller than its close relative the firecrest, making it the UK's smallest bird species.
  • Typically goldcrests have a wing span of just 14 cm and weigh only five grams. One mute swan, one of the UK's largest birds, weighs as much as around 2,150 goldcrests.
  • The goldcrest is duller in colour than the firecrest, with less prominent black stripes bordering its colourful crown and it has no black stripe through its eye.