There aren’t many British birds that like non-native conifers. To be honest, I don’t like them much either, yet this is one British bird that you might see or hear using a Leylandii hedge, or in the canopy of an otherwise silent conifer plantation.
Let’s not hold this 'lack of taste' against them. They are such beautiful, tiny birds, feathered in green and gold (the strip of orange / gold on the crown of their heads gives them both their common name – gold crest – and their Latin name regulus regulus, which means ruler, or king.
Their song is not for everyone. Literally. The high pitched ziegly-ziegly-ziegly is too high-pitched for some people to hear. I was once told that if you hear a bird whose song is like a squeaky wheelbarrow, then that’s a singing goldcrest. It’s well worth listening for, if you have conifers in your garden or wherever you walk or take exercise.
And the size? Well, they are the smallest European bird. I once helped some qualified bird ringers on Bardsey Island who were studying bird migration. Their strange Heligoland traps were very effective in catching birds on migration, so they could be scientifically measured, ringed, and then sent on their journey. I was lucky enough to hold one in my hand. These beautiful little birds are impressively wee, weighing in at only 5g. If you want to feel what that’s like, try holding a 20p piece in your hand…
For more information on gold crests, and to hear their song, you can follow these links:
'Goldcrest' - image: (c) Tejasiddhi
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