Instagram | @davidjanglov

Goldcrests Are The Tiniest British Bird Species But Called 'King Of The Birds'

Amy Pilkington 18 Sep 2020

When someone says they want to show you the species that's known as the "King of the Birds" you probably imagine an eagle or other large, majestic raptor.

They're big, powerful, and stare out over the land with the sort of grandeur one associates with kings.

However this king of the birds is not a raptor, nor is it even much of a hunter.

Rather, it's less than a quarter-ounce of fluff and personality.

Instagram | @johnmrph00

The goldcrest is the smallest bird in Britain and one of the smallest in all of Europe. Weighing only six grams, or about 0.21 ounces, their largest average wingspan is only about 15 centemeters, or 6 inches.

Load Comments

Surprisingly though, these little guys migrate.

Instagram | @satukoo_nature

Most experts agree that birds this size wouldn't have the strength or stamina to fly long distances, but every autumn huge flocks of them migrate from Scandinavia to the eastern shores of Britain.

Load Comments

In fact, this was so unbelievable to early avian researchers that goldcrests earned the nickname "woodcock pilot."

Instagram | @ramatoa

That's because an early folklore-inspired theory was that goldcrests literally rode on the backs of woodcocks, since both species share the same migratory patterns.

Which is an adorable mental image.

Load Comments

They get their king of the birds moniker from their Latin name: Regulus regulus, which means "king" or "knight."

Instagram | @soosseli

Pair that with their distinctive golden crowns and folklore about them piloting other birds, and no wonder they're such special little creatures.

h/t: The Wildlife Trusts, Animalia

Load Comments
Next Article