A prince without a crown

It’s a while since I’ve had a good look at a goldcrest, even though they are a common Irish bird. About 4 years ago, on a Saturday morning, an adult bird appeared on a shrub in my front garden, but flew off before I got a chance to photograph it. I stared at that shrub for many a time after that, but I never saw another goldcrest visitor. Looking back through my photo archive, the only other time I got a decent picture of a goldcrest was back in January 2007.


The goldcrest (regulus regulus)  smallest bird in Ireland and Europe is and the juvenile is even smaller. The goldcrest gets its name from its golden crown – a tuft of yellow feathers on the top of its head. It isn’t born with it- it only appears when the bird matures. Hence the latin name of the bird – regulus – meaning kinglet (or petty king / princeling) – i.e. waiting for the crown.

The juvenile goldcrest pictured above (and thus, without its crown) was one of a bunch flitting between the branches of trees in a conifer forest in west Galway yesterday, feeding on insects.