Monday, 24 January 2011


Regulus ignicapillus

Photo by Johan Stenlund (PBase)

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Regulidae

The firecrest breeds mostly in Europe, from southern England, France, Spain and Portugal, east to Belarus, north-western Ukraine and Greece, and north to the Baltic and southern Latvia. There are isolated populations in the east, in Abkhazia, Crimea, Turkey, and in the western Mediterranean, in the Balearic islands, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Southern birds are largely resident, unlike the northern and eastern populations which migrate to the Mediterranean basin in winter.

These tinny birds are 9cm long and have a wingspan of 13-16 cm. they weigh 4-7 g.

It breeds in lowland broadleaf forest, preferring cork oak and alder where available, otherwise beech and holly. It also uses mixed broadleaf and conifer woodland, and stands of spruce, European silver fir, cedar and pines, often with undergrowth of juniper, ivy and wild rose. In drier Mediterranean habitats it is found in conifers, evergreen oaks, and mixed woodlands up to 2.800 m.

They are almost exclusively insectivorous, preying on small arthropods with soft cuticles, such as springtails, aphids and spiders. They also feed on the cocoons and eggs of spiders and insects, and occasionally take pollen. They can also hover to catch flying insects.

Firecrests start breeding in April-May. The nest is constructed by the female alone, although the male will accompany the female while she builds the nest over a period of a few days to three weeks. The nest is a closed cup built in three layers with a small entrance hole near its top. The nest's outer layer is made from moss, small twigs, cobwebs and lichen, the spider webs also being used to attach the nest to the thin branches that support it. The middle layer is moss, and this is lined with feathers and hair. The female lays 7-12 pink eggs with very indistinct reddish markings at the broad end. The female incubates the eggs alone for 14-17 days and broods the chicks, which fledge 8-10 days later. Both parents feed the chicks and fledged young.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The global population is estimated at 3.300.000-6.700.000 individuals. This species has a very large breeding range and the population trend is believed to be stable, so it is not threatened.

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