Ruby-crowned Kinglet – First of the Season

Late this afternoon a little bird came flitting through water oak branches and into a Savannah holly beside our front porch where I was standing – our first-of-the-season Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The sunny afternoon had become windy and cool, and there were few other birds around. The kinglet moved quickly among the tossing limbs and leaves in the holly and back into the water oaks, gleaning from leaves, a stubby, roundish little bird with quick flitting movements, gray back and head with a distinctly greenish tint, a round white eye-ring, and neat shape of white wing bars on darker wings. The ruby crown was not visible, and the kinglet was quiet. After several minutes, I heard just a couple of stuttering little jdit-jdits, a piece of its usual chatter.

As I watched, I wondered if it was here to stay for the winter, or just passing through on its way further south. And has it been here before, returning to a familiar place, or is this the first time? How many summers and winters has it seen, and what was it like to fly so far, from the deep evergreen forests in the far north where it lives and nests in spring and summer – and come here, where the habitat is so different and more open to spend the fall and winter.

It looked young, fresh and a little tentative or uncertain in new surroundings, a little stunned, without the bold, inquisitive air of most Ruby-crowned Kinglets – but that was probably in the eye of the beholder.

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