Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Regulidae | [latin] Regulus regulus | [UK] Goldcrest | [FR] Roitelet huppe | [DE] Winter-Goldhahnchen | [ES] Reyezuelo Sencillo | [NL] Goudhaantje


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Regulus regulus EU widespread
Regulus regulus azoricus
Regulus regulus buturlini
Regulus regulus coatsi
Regulus regulus ellenthalerae
Regulus regulus himalayensis
Regulus regulus hyrcanus
Regulus regulus inermis
Regulus regulus japonensis
Regulus regulus regulus
Regulus regulus sanctaemariae
Regulus regulus sikkimensis
Regulus regulus teneriffae
Regulus regulus tristis
Regulus regulus yunnanensis

Physical charateristics

Goldcrest is one of the smallest birds in Europe. Upperparts are olive green. Rounded and very broad wings show two white wing bars and dark flight feathers. Underparts are buff white. It has pale face with orange crown in male, and yellow crest in female. Orange and yellow are bordered with black in both sexes. These feathers form a short crest when erected. Eyes are dark, rounded by white short feathers. Thin, pointed bill is black. Legs and feet are pale brown. Goldcrest has strong toes to grasp the branches in upside down posture. Juvenile is similar to adult, but it lacks the head markings until the first autumn.
Goldcrest is a tiny and hyperactive bird. It is always fluttering and flitting through outer canopy, always moving to lower perches, changing trees and bushes, with wings and tail flicking. When hidden in dark conifers, it gives away its presence with its high-pitched call.
It forages into foliage and probes into bark crevices with its pointed bill. It often hangs upside down or flitters to catch insects on the underside of leaves.
Goldcrests are often seen in small groups.
Northern birds move to south in winter, and may travel about 1000 km in a week. During winter, Goldcrests have an erratic behaviour, joining groups of sedentary birds of the same species. They fly long distances, but bad weather can stop their migration. They are vulnerable during hard winters, and their numbers may decline of 75 to 80 %. But populations increase if winters are temperate. During hard winters, these birds feed all day round, and roost together at night in dense vegetation, very close to each other.
Courtship displays start in late April or early May. Sedentary males sing to establish territories and attract females. Male displays its bright orange crest in front of its mate. Breeding pairs are very active and to build the nest takes from a few days to three weeks.
Higher conifers include several breeding pairs at each level of the trees. Several territories can occur in the same tree.

Listen to the sound of Goldcrest


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 16 cm wingspan max.: 18 cm
size min.: 9 cm size max.: 10 cm
incubation min.: 15 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 7  
      eggs max.: 12  


Eurasia : widespread


Goldcrest breeds in conifer and mixed woodlands, in large gardens and parks with conifers. Outside breeding season, it also lives in scrub and in deciduous trees.


Goldcrest’s nest is hammock-shaped, built by both male and female, but mainly by male. This nest is built on outer branches in conifer. This action may last almost three weeks. Nest includes three distinct parts. Outerpart is made with mosses and lichens, woven with spider webs, and well caught to the branches. Median part of the nest is made with mosses, and inner part is lined with hair and feathers. Nest is almost spherical with a narrow entrance close to the top. It is located relatively high in trees, up to 15 meters.
Female lays 9 to 12 smooth and pale eggs with a few markings, one egg per day. Incubation lasts about 16 days, and starts before all eggs are laid. Female incubates, broods and cares the young for the first seven days. Male feeds female at nest and both adults feeds the young which fledge at about 17 to 22 days.
Parents start to prepare the next clutch while they are still feeding the first. Female may lay its second brood, even with the first still at nest.
This species may produce two broods, about 20 young at least per year. They breed when food resources are abundant and days long enough.

Feeding habits

Goldcrest feeds on small insects and spiders found in trees. During winter, it feeds on seeds and insects on the ground. Young grow quickly with a rich diet including insect larvae and small spiders.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Regulus regulus is a widespread breeder across much of Europe, which constitutes
>50% of its global range. Its European breeding population is extremely large
(>19,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were some
declines in Sweden and Germany during 1990-2000, populations were stable or
increased across most of the rest of Europe?including the key one in Russia?and
the species remained stable overall.
Goldcrest status Least Concern


Resident to migratory. Movement both nocturnal and diurnal. European populations winter within and south of breeding range, and vacate entirely only extreme north of range in Fenno-Scandia and Russia. Autumn movement protracted. Fenno-Scandian birds depart late August to early November, with peak late September to mid-October coinciding with 1st cold spell. Immigrants reach east coast of Britain late August to early November, chiefly October. Spring movement (much lighter than autumn) begins February. Last records usually late March on Mediterranean islands, with weak passage March to mid-April in Camargue. Main movement in northern Europe late March to late April or early May, peaking early to mid-April. Vulnerability to extreme weather conditions may lead to large-scale disorientation or loss. Large numbers often gather on ships when night visibility poor, suggesting weak ability to maintain flight direction. In north-east Britain, unprecedented influx in October 1982 included 15 000 birds on Isle of May and 2000 on Fair Isle. Many records of stragglers to Iceland, chiefly in autumn. Weak spring passage in comparison with autumn also indicates heavy mortality among migrants.

Distribution map

Goldcrest distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *