Golden-crowned Kinglet – Little But Fierce
By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a bird I fell in love with as a 6 year old child. I would visit my aunt on the weekends and we would snap together “paint-by-number” models of songbirds, the little Kinglet was one of my favorites.
The only time we receive Kinglets at Wild Care seems to be in the fall – when they migrate south for the winter, however they can be spotted around the Cape year-round, but are primarily seen in the Fall during migration. I have only seen them for myself in the New Hampshire White Mountains, very high in the canopy or in dense spruce or fir. They can be heard making high pitched calls along with the elusive warblers. I have spent a thousand hours with my binoculars desperately trying to capture a glimpse of those teeny-weeny birds, they never stay still! (And they are teeny weeny, weighing only a few grams more than a hummingbird.)
In early November, a man appeared at Wild Care’s door holding a box. It contained a male Golden-crowned Kinglet. I asked if he found it on a boat, because they often land on boats at sea, exhausted from their migration. The rescuer said he found it standing on a front door step in Eastham, and just picked it up it. That was good news. Hopefully it had been a healthy bird that flew into a window and was only stunned. His chance of recovery would be much greater than if the bird was weak, starving, and spent from its journey. Migration takes its toll.
As it turned out, this bird was in great body condition. He did appear to be a window strike victim on the mend. His eyes were bright, his wings and legs were strong and the bird was extremely difficult to examine – biting, struggling and flashing his stunning bright-red crest at me. Wow! He was recovering quickly, I was shocked!
I placed him into a soft-sided pen with branches and bark to perch on, an artificial plant to hide behind, water and mealworms to eat, and a camera was added to the pen, to monitor his behavior candidly. After several hours I could see he was aware, bright, alert, and responsive – zipping back and forth searching for a way out. Keeping him at Wild Care overnight could be detrimental his health. The stress of being captive and SO active is a bad combination. He could injure or just exhaust himself. I decided to release him ASAP.
I covered and carried the whole pen outside and allowed him adjust to the change for 10 minutes. Then the second I opened the door, he fired out of there—faster than a speeding bullet into the trees!! (Check out the slow-motion video of the release, by Jennifer Taylor.)
P.S. We received a wonderful donation of remote security cameras from Dr. Nadia Groom last year. They truly have improved our ability to care for our patients. Thanks again Nadia!
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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!