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Species Guide
A photo of a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)


Regulus regulus

The Goldcrest, Regulus regulus, is Europe's smallest bird, with a length of 8.5–9.5 cm and a weight of 4.5–7.0 g. It is a passerine bird in the kinglet family, characterized by its vibrant golden crest feathers. The male's crest has an orange center surrounded by yellow, while the female's is entirely yellow. The upper-parts are greenish, under-parts whitish, and it has two white wingbars. The face is plain with striking black irises, and the bill is small and thin.

Identification Tips

The Goldcrest can be identified by its bright crest and relatively plain face. Males have an orange tinge on the hindcrown. It is distinguishable from similar species like the Common Firecrest by lacking the strong face pattern and bronze shoulders of the latter. The flight is distinctive, consisting of whirring wing-beats with occasional sudden changes of direction.


This kinglet favors mature coniferous woodlands and gardens for breeding, often using spruce, larch, Scots pine, silver fir, and mountain pine. It can also be found in man-made landscapes with introduced conifers such as Douglas fir.


The Goldcrest has a vast distribution range across much of the Palearctic, including the islands of Macaronesia and Iceland. Northern and eastern populations migrate southward to winter.


The Goldcrest is monogamous and displays its crest during breeding. It is constantly on the move, searching for insects to eat, and in winter, it often joins flocks of tits.

Song & Calls

The contact call is a high-pitched "zee," and the male's song is a series of high, thin notes ending in a flourish. The song is often heard while the male forages and can be heard throughout most months of the year.


The Goldcrest builds a compact, three-layered nest on a tree branch. The female incubates 10 to 12 eggs alone, and both parents feed the chicks. Second broods are common.

Similar Species

The Goldcrest could be confused with the Common Firecrest or Yellow-browed Warbler, but differences in head patterns and size usually aid identification. The American Ruby-crowned Kinglet is similar but has a red crest and lacks the black border.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists mainly of small arthropods like springtails, aphids, and spiders. The Goldcrest forages in trees, often on the undersides of branches and leaves.

Conservation Status

With a large range and population estimated at 80–200 million individuals, the Goldcrest is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is not considered to present any significant conservation concerns.

Goldcrest Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Goldcrest Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Goldcrest is the national bird of Luxembourg

Goldcrests on Birda


More Goldcrests, Kinglets

A photo of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula) , male

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Corthylio calendula
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