Tiny Bundles of Inspiration

On cold, dark winter days (few and far between so far this season), I often look for golden-crowned kinglets. Most of the time, my search is unsuccessful.

These tiny, plump insectivores breed across Canada and southward through mountain ranges of North America.  Favoring coniferous forest, their nest is placed high in a fir or spruce tree and the energetic couple raises two broods before autumn sets in.  Highly territorial when on their breeding grounds, golden-crowned kinglets roam about in flocks during the winter months, descending to lower elevations and latitudes; they are also less selective about habitat during the colder months, turning up in deciduous, coniferous or mixed woodlands.

Other than their "cute" appearance and brightly colored crowns, I am drawn to these winter visitors by their relentless energy and by their hardiness in the face of extreme weather conditions.  Like other winter insectivores, they survive the season by feeding on hibernating insects, insect eggs or those that remain active beneath the leaf litter.  They are tiny bundles of inspiration in the eyes and hearts of many birders (myself included), snug in our layered clothing, heated vehicles or insulated homes and feasting on high-calorie snacks from the neighborhood grocery.