And yet others lay claim to seeing the bird regularly. At least I've read some recent online reports indicating such. So, it must be a matter of luck or timing, because the teensy occult foraging passerine completely eludes me for the most part. Which, on doing a bit of research, isn't so odd; according to the Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks Bird Checklist, Golden-crowned Kinglets are listed as UNCOMMON winter visitors, RARE spring passers-by, and, again, UNCOMMONLY sighted during the fall. A 1940 report on frequency of birds sighted on the Berkeley Campus indicates that the bird is spotted very INFREQUENTLY during all times of the year. (Maybe things have changed for the better for the Golden-crowned Kinglet since 1940.)
So what gives - why are many people spotting Golden-crowned Kinglets in and around the Bay Area? And I'm left looking at way too many of the COMMON cousin, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet? (Well, there can never be too many.)
But the golden crowned one, ah, this one's much more elusive. An insect foraging, edgy bird, barely bigger than a hummingbird, he's tough to spot, given a predilection for foraging high up "needle country" in recondite pine forest canopy. Your best bet for observing the Golden-crowned Kinglet is when they come down to riparian areas.
A few weeks ago, I experienced my most satisfying sighting to date. The bird, or maybe it was two birds, hard to tell - flitted and foraged for some thirty minutes in brush and small trees along Wildcat Gorge Trail in Tilden Regional Park. Adding to the lively scene were Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Oak Titmouses, Townsend Warblers, and the ever-present Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I also want to think I saw a Nashville Warbler. . . but, having failed to capture an image, I can't swear on it. But I can unequivocally state it was a Warbler-like bird I have never seen before. (Maybe a Vireo of some sort?) Regardless, it was a field day (rather a gorge day) for spotting a couple of birds rarely, if ever, spotted, by me, that is.
My second sighting was on Oursan / Bear Creek Trail on EBMUD land. I had just set off and was not quite down to San Pablo Creek, when a bird I instantly knew I'd seen only one other time flew into a tree near the trail, darting about, disappearing, but sticking around long enough to get a much better second look, but no photo, of this crypto-avian species. A thrilling moment only a birder in his own private idaho can enjoy and savor.
My third sighting occurred in a small meadow off Steep Ravine Trail in Marin County. Aromatic after a nice rain, dense brush edged up against lush forest commingling with sunny meadow, perfect bird habitat and weather. Emerging from the dankness of the ravine into the sunlit clearing, I felt a sighting coming on. Go ahead, laugh. Soon it came: a beautiful Golden-crowned Kinglet manifesting right before my eyes in a tree a few feet away. Then - gone in a flash after a 15 seconds of acquaintance. It's been good to know you, Mr. GC Kinglet.
What can be more fascinating to the kid in all of us?
Nice vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsMJFSWmacU