Firecrest

Firecrest ©David Tipling/2020VISION

Firecrest

Scientific name: Regulus ignicapilla
The tiny Firecrest vies with the Goldcrest for the title of the UK's smallest bird. Once just a visitor, the Firecrest can now be found breeding in woodlands in the south of England.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 9cm
Wingspan: 14cm
Weight: 6g

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December

About

The Firecrest is a tiny kinglet, closely related to the similarly patterned Goldcrest. Firecrests were first recorded breeding in the UK in Hampshire in 1962, and are now found in coniferous forests throughout much of southern England. In autumn and winter, numbers increase as migrant Firecrests arrive across the North Sea. At this time of year, they join flocks of other small birds and can often be found away from breeding sites, including in parks and gardens.

How to identify

This tiny bird is similar in appearance to the Goldcrest, olive-green above and buff-white below, but the colours are brighter on a Firecrest. Males have a bright orange crown edged with black, while the female's crown is yellow. The Firecrest's most distinctive feature is a bright white line above the eye, which is not present in Goldcrests.

Distribution

Firecrests can now be found as breeding birds in much of southern England. Elsewhere, they are typically seen over winter or during spring and autumn migration, especially in the south-west and on the east coast of England.

Did you know?

Like the Goldcrest, the Firecrest's scientific name has a royal ring to it. Regulus ignicapilla translates roughly as the fire-capped little king, a reference to the beautiful orange crown of the male.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.