Goldcrest, Britain's smallest bird


Goldcrest, Britain's smallest bird

This beautiful bird is, together with the similar firecrest, Britain's smallest bird. Adults typically weigh just 5g, which is the same as a 20p coin.

Goldcrests are named after the crest of bright feathers in the middle of their head. This is completely yellow on females, but has an orange centre on males. The rest of the plumage is mainly green-brown.

Goldcrests can be found across the UK. They favour coniferous and mixed woodland, but can also be found in gardens and parks with large trees.

They feed on insects and invertebrates. The bird will flit among tree branches, catching small creatures such as spiders, flies and caterpillars. It often takes food from the underside of branches, hanging upside down to reach its prey.

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 tree using spiders’ webs, moss and lichen. The young will fledge when they are around 18 days old.

The UK has a large population of breeding goldcrests that stay here all year round. However, the population is often boosted in winter by individuals that migrate from Scandinavia. Historically, sailors in the North Sea often spotted migrating goldcrests resting on boats.

The bird has a distinctively high-pitched call and song.

Further reading

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