Regulus regulusgoldcrest

Geographic Range

The goldcrest Regulus regulus is native to both the Palearctic region and the Oriental regions. This includes many countries in the Middle East, east and central Asia, India, and many parts of Europe. The breeding range for the goldcrest includes northern Europe and northern Asia. Specifically, it breeds in Norway, Sweden, Finland, southern Russia and northern China. Outside of breeding season, the goldcrests typically migrate just south of the breeding range into Spain, France, Poland, Nepal, southern China, and the Canary Islands. (Aye, et al., 2012; BirdLife International, 2012; Brazil, 2009; Grimmett, et al., 2012; Porter and Aspinall, 2010)


Regulus regulus is a bird that and can be found in coniferous forests or other mixed woodland habitats. During the winter, the goldcrest is often found in winter-hedges, undergrowth and scrub-like underbrush. Due to its small size, the goldcrest is found closer to the ground in the brush to keep warmer. In the warmer seasons this bird is often found higher up in canopy and also can be found in gardens. (Brazil, 2009; Grimmett, et al., 2012)

Physical Description

The goldcrest is a relatively small bird with a finely shaped bill and a short tail. The goldcrest has an average basal metabolic rate of approximately 2.48 cm^3 oxygen/hr. This bird is about 9 centimeters long and weighs about 6 grams. Males generally weigh more and have longer lengths in the wingspan and bill. The wingspan is, on average, 14 centimeters long. Regulus regulus has a yellow or orange stripe centrally located on the crown. With a pale face and dark eyes, this bird can be distinguished by the yellow-colored stripe in the female and more of an orange-colored stripe in the male that is featured. Juvenile goldcrests lack the pattern on the crown that is seen in the adult birds. A relative of the goldcrest, the firecrest Regulus ignicapilla, has a distinctive eye stripe. (Aye, et al., 2012; Brazil, 2009; Grimmett, et al., 2012; Porter and Aspinall, 2010; Reynolds and Lee III, 1996)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Average mass
    6 g
    0.21 oz
  • Average length
    9 cm
    3.54 in
  • Average wingspan
    14 cm
    5.51 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    2.48 cm3.O2/g/hr


Male goldcrests sing to attract the attention of female goldcrests and establish their territory. The males will display their brightly-colored crest to try and get the attention of a mate. The courtship usually begins in April or May and they mate monogamously for the season. (Haftorn, 1978)

Goldcrests breed when food resources are the most abundant, usually in April and May. Goldcrests utilize internal fertilization. They can have 6-14 eggs per clutch. Birth mass has not been reported for this species. The females are also able to have two broods per season, with the potential of up to 20 offspring per breeding season. The breeding interval is once to twice yearly. The eggs are incubated for about 15 days and, once hatched, the young are fed for up to 22 days by both the male and female. The male and female goldcrests both reach sexual maturity around 1 year. (Haftorn, 1978; Heenan, 2013; Moller, 2006)

  • Breeding interval
    once to twice yearly
  • Breeding season
    Goldrests breed in the late spring season between April and May.
  • Range eggs per season
    6 to 20
  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    15 days
  • Range fledging age
    17 to 22 days
  • Average fledging age
    19 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years

Male goldcrests will bring food to the female and the young hatchlings, and from there, both parents feed the young. The newly-hatched birds are not very well-developed and depend on their parents for food. The male and the female both protect and provide for the hatchlings and fledglings until they are able to leave the nest. Male goldrests will also protect their territory around the nesting area while the young are still in the nest. (Heenan, 2013; Kralj, et al., 2013)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • post-independence association with parents


The longest recorded lifespan of a goldcrest in the wild is 7 years. The average lifespan for a goldcrest is about one to two years, shortly after it has reproduced. There is no recorded data for goldcrest lifespan in captivity. (Dunning, 2008; Moller, 2006; Reynolds and Lee III, 1996; Starck and Ricklefs, 1998)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    7 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 years


Regulus regulus is a motile, volant bird. It is very erratic in movements and is often hopping, flicking its tail, and twitching or fluttering around. This bird is usually solitary or it will live in a small community of about 8 birds and will migrate in small groups with no more that 12 birds.

During migration the birds that are found in more northern areas of the range will relocate south of the breeding range. The goldcrests in the southerns area do not migrate, like those in the northern ares. (Dietzen, et al., 2006; Morse, 1975; Telleria and Santos, 1995)

Home Range

Male goldcrests are territorial in their breeding area. Goldcrest population density is independent of the size of the forest patch and birds will travel several kilometers from the nesting area at a time. Home range and territory, however, have not been quantified. (Alatalo, et al., 1985; Kralj, et al., 2013; Telleria and Santos, 1995)

Communication and Perception

Regulus regulus communicates primarily through acoustic means. The voice of the goldcrest is very high pitched and is commonly heard with a repeating rise and fall, ending with great flourish for its choruses. The voice of Regulus regulus is also identified to be trisyllabic. The call will generally sound like see-see-see, see-seesisyu-seesiyu-sweet. This bird can also visually see its environment as well as hear and taste the things surrounding it. The goldcrest will call most commonly when foraging, this means that it will be heard year round. (Brazil, 2009; Grimmett, et al., 2012)

Food Habits

The goldcrest commonly forages by feeding in the trees on insects, spiders, caterpillars, worms, and other small insects. In the winter Regulus regulus can be found foraging with other birds like tits Parus. The goldcrest is often skittish in movement when hunting for food and is known to store seeds for later. Primarily an insectivore, the goldcrest also eats the sap from trees and bits of leaves and other plant like material when foraging on the ground. (Alatalo, et al., 1985; Merila and Svensson, 1995; Oyugi, et al., 2012)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • sap or other plant fluids


Because goldcrests are under the cover of trees and foliage while foragaing, they are rarely subject to predation. Goldcrests use cryptic coloration to blend into their environment. The most common predators of the goldcrest are owls, such as the pygmy owl Glaucidium passerinum, and sparrow hawks Accipiter nisus. (Ekman, 1986; Kralj, et al., 2013)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Regulus regulus plays a role in seed dispersal by caching seeds. The trematode Collyriclum faba is a common parasite in wild birds including Regulus regulus. This parasite can cause one to twenty-one cysts in the body and can be fatal to the bird. In Regulus regulus these cysts are generally found near the coccygeal gland. (Heneberg, et al., 2015; Literak, et al., 2003; Nishi and Tsuyuzaki, 2004)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • trematodes (Collyriclum faba)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive economic effects of Regulus regulus on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse economic effects of Regulus regulus on humans.

Conservation Status

The goldcrest is not a threatened species and according to the IUCN red list the goldcrest is listed as "least concern." However, the populations of goldcrests are reported to be on decline. The goldcrest is not currently under any protective measures or on any conservation list. (BirdLife International, 2012)


Megan Collier (author), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, April Tingle (editor), Radford University, Emily Clark (editor), Radford University, Cari Mcgregor (editor), Radford University, Jacob Vaught (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


uses sight to communicate


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