Saturday, December 24, 2016

Very Small, Very Tough, and Fearless: Golden-crowned Kinglet below Mt. St. Helens, Washington

I was privileged to catch sight of some Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa) today. We were at Silver Lake in Washington state. The lake was formed by mudflows from nearby Mt. St. Helens thousands of years ago.
The sense of privilege comes from the fact that I've never seen any before, and because their preferred habitat is way up in the canopy of conifer forests, where they search for bugs. In these winter days, the bugs are less prevalent, so these kinglets had come down to the pavement in the parking lot for the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center, looking for seeds or bugs on the ground.
Fearless? Yes, they danced around the pavement less than 10 feet away from me. Frenetic? Yes! They never stopped moving while I was watching them and trying to get a few photographs. I took 30 shots or more, and only four or five came out at all. Look below to see an average shot...
A real-life Angry Bird?
Tough? Yes. It is the beginning of winter, and these birds weren't messing around with migration to warmer climes. According to the Cornell Ornithology website, they can survive temperatures of -40 degrees, sometimes huddling together for warmth. It's amazing that they don't freeze; they're barely bigger than hummingbirds!
Very small, very tough, and fearless. But also quite beautiful!

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