Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Corthylio calendula
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General Comments The Ruby-crowned Kinglet, like the Golden-crowned, is a tiny bundle of energy, having to constantly feed in winter to have enough fat storage to survive cold winter nights. Both kinglets breed in the coniferous forest zone in Canada and in western mountains; surprisingly, the Ruby-crowned does not nest down the Appalachians. However, it is highly migratory and winters over most of the southern half of the country. It winters all across North Carolina, though it is rare by midwinter in the northern mountains, with few making it through the winters over much of the mountains. In migration, it can be found in many wooded habitats, even in deciduous forests, but in winter it needs some evergreen cover -- pine or mixed forests, and coastal broadleaf evergreen forests and thickets, even in wooded residential areas. It can occur in deciduous forests in winter if there is an evergreen understory or shrub zone. It is a characteristic species of the mixed species flocks, often numerous in early winter, but by late winter, numbers have been reduced by cold/severe weather. There have been several recent occurrences of singing birds in the spruce-fir zone in the high mountains, where breeding would be unlikely this far south of the known breeding range.

Note: In 2021 the AOS Check-list Committee moved this species into its own genus -- Corthylio. It is quite different from the Golden-crowned Kinglet and other Eurasian kinglets, all of which remain in the genus Regulus.

Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter resident. Common to occasionally very common (in early winter) over the region; fairly common on coastal islands. Mainly late Sep to late Apr. Peak counts:
Piedmont Winter resident. Common, to sometimes very common, in early winter, across the eastern and southern half of the province; fairly common in midwinter in the northwestern parts, though uncommon in the foothills and the northwestern corner. Numbers consistently decline during the winter, as cold weather reduces the population. Mainly late Sep to early May. Peak counts:
Mountains Winter resident and transient. Fairly common transient in spring and fall; generally uncommon in the lower elevations in winter, and can be rare by late winter; rare in the northern half of the mountains in early winter, but few remain through the winter. Mainly mid-Sep to late Oct, and early Apr to early May. There are a few summer records from the spruce-fir zone -- Grandfather Mountain (twice), Roan Mountain (twice), Mount Mitchell (once), Mount Pisgah (once), and Clingman's Dome (once), even of singing birds, but there is nothing close to suggesting breeding in the state. Peak counts:
Finding Tips None needed.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-27], LeGrand[2021-11-07], LeGrand[2021-07-12]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.