The yellow-headed beetle is the smallest inhabitant of our country and Europe. It is not easy to notice this nimble and mobile bird in the tree crown, because it is so tiny. It is said that the little king replaces the hummingbird in the northern hemisphere. We will describe in detail the appearance of this interesting bird, characterize its habits, food preferences, places of permanent residence, features of the mating season and bird character.
Origin view and description
The yellow-headed beetle belongs to the family of the beetles, the order of passerines and the genus of beetles. As already noted, this is a very tiny inhabitant, mainly of spruce forests. The bird received its royal name due to the presence of a bright yellow strip on its head, which resembles a crown made of gold. In Germany, the beetle is called the “winter golden cockerel”, because it arrives in this country only in winter. Previously, in Russia, the bird was called “carnation”, apparently because of its diminutiveness.
Interesting fact: In females, the crown stripe has a lemon yellow hue, while in males it has a yellowish-orange color. In males, it is wider.
Video: Yellow-headed Kinglet
Despite the fact that the kinglet did not come out tall, legends are formed about him. One of them testifies to his prowess and dexterity. They say that once there was a dispute between the birds about which of them would fly closest to the sun. It seems that a proud eagle was in the lead in this duel, but at the very last second, a tiny kinglet flew out from under the wings of the eagle, rising much higher than the bird of prey. The size of the yellow-headed beetle is indeed very small. The length of the bird’s body is from 9 to 10 cm, and the weight ranges from 4 to 8 grams.
In terms of its dimensions, the yellow-headed kinglet is slightly inferior to:
- king warbler;
- red-headed warbler.
It is worth noting that ornithologists have identified 14 subspecies of this bird, which differ not only in the territory of their residence, but also in some nuances of feather color.
Appearance and features
So, we have already found out that the most important features of the yellow-headed beetle are its miniature size and rich yellow “crown” at the very top. The whole figure of the crumb-king resembles a ball; in terms of physique, it is similar to chiffchaffs. The length of its wingspan varies from 13 to 17 cm.
The tail of the kinglet is not long, and the beak looks like an awl, it is very thin and sharp, but short and painted in an almost black hue. There are no obvious differences between the sexes in birds. Only, as mentioned, the shades of the “crowns” on the head differ. The yellow feathers on the head stick out in the form of a tuft when the wren arrives in excitement, and have a contrasting black edging. The main tone of the plumage is greenish-olive, the belly of the bird is much lighter than the dorsal part. On darker wings, a pair of white transverse stripes stand out brightly.
The eyes of the beetle are quite large and resemble round, shiny, black beads. A whitish stroke is noticeable around them. The eye iris is dark brown. A whitish plumage is also observed in the forehead and cheeks. The limbs of the bird have a greyish-olive color scheme. The paws are four-fingered, three fingers look forward, and the fourth is directed in the opposite direction, which allows the birds to be tenacious and nimble, moving from branch to branch. Young kinglets are similar to adult relatives, only they don’t have a yellow crown on their heads, this happens until the first autumn, which the birds have to endure, then the bright yellow feature begins to gradually appear, becoming more and more noticeable.
Now you know What does a yellow-headed beetle look like? Let’s see where it lives.
Where does the yellow-headed beetle live?
Yellow-headed beetles have chosen almost all of Eurasia, the Azores and Canary Islands. To the north of Western Europe, bird nesting can be found almost everywhere where natural biotopes suit it. To the south, the bird can be found only in certain places, its range is divided into separate areas. Nests of kinglets were found on the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy, in southwestern France, in Romania, in the Balkans. In the northern part of Scandinavia, you will not meet the kinglet, there are places where this bird appears only in winter during nomadism (Germany). almost complete coincidence with the habitat of common spruce, fir and some other varieties of Asiatic spruce.
In the vastness of our country, the kinglet inhabited:
- Mountain Caucasus;
- Altai mountain ranges;
- Kola Peninsula;
- Kuril Islands.
The Russian area of settlement of the bird reaches Nizhny Novgorod , Tambov and Penza regions. The yellow-headed kinglet also lives in the spaces of Ukraine.
As you can see, the bird has adapted perfectly to the mountainous terrain, so you can meet it:
- in the Urals;
- Tien Shan;
- in the Himalayas;
- on the Iranian Elburz;
- in the mountain ranges of Tibet;
- on the territory of the Armenian Taurus;
- in the Alps.
The kinglet usually lives at altitudes of about one and a half kilometers, although in the Himalayas it can be found at a height of four kilometers, in the Swiss Alps birds fly in the mountains higher than 2 km. During the seasonal movement of the beetle, you can meet in the vastness of Egypt, China and Taiwan.
Yellow-headed kinglets give their preference to tall spruce forests, where interspersed with mountain pine and fir are sometimes present. In mixed forests, birds nest much less frequently, preferring spruce-broad-leaved massifs and high-mountain cedar forests. But the forests where larch and common pine grow are not liked by the kinglet, so they never settle there. In the Canary Islands, the bird lives in the laurel forest and in places where the Canarian pine grows. On the territory of the Azores, the kinglet has adapted to live in places where the Japanese cedar grows and in juniper groves, because. almost all of the laurel forests here have been cut down.
What does the yellow-headed beetle eat?
The menu of the yellow-headed beetle is very diverse, it contains both animal food and dishes of plant origin. The latter predominate in food in cold times, when it becomes very difficult to find small living creatures.
So, the miniature kinglet is not averse to having a bite:
- small bugs;
- bark beetles;
- long-legged mosquitoes;
- hay eaters;
- seeds of coniferous trees;
- berries and other fruits.
This small bird cannot catch large prey, the king cannot tear it apart with its beak, as sparrows and titmouse often do, it always swallows the caught prey whole. Basically, the beetles find food in coniferous branches, carefully examining needles, cracks in the bark, cone scales. The bird grabs winged insects right in flight, hovering in the air like a hummingbird. Very rarely, a baby kinglet descends to the ground to search for a snack, he prefers to disguise himself in a tree crown. When feathered babies are thirsty, they drink dew and use raindrops to get drunk.
The tiny dimensions of the beetle determine the peculiarities of its nutrition, which is practically uninterrupted. The kinglet continues to devour food as it sings its trills and sets up a nesting site. This is due to the fact that it has a very fast metabolism and a small stomach size. Food that fits in a tiny stomach cannot completely saturate an overly active bird, so the kinglet eats constantly in order to be dexterous and energetic. During the day, he eats such a volume of food that is twice his own weight.
Interesting fact: If the king has to starve for 12 minutes, then his body weight at that moment decreases by a third. And an hour-long fast can lead a bird to death.
Character and Lifestyle Features
It is difficult for small creatures to live alone, so kinglets can be called collective birds. Often during sleep, they cling to each other to keep warm. In general, these are very dexterous and energetic birds that are constantly on the move, seething with enthusiasm and swiftness in the tree crown.
As it has already become clear, the beetles take a fancy to spruce forests, where it is very difficult to notice them in the branches of spruce, because. the disguise of these birds is on top. Tenacious bird legs allow them to hang on branches even upside down, at these moments the kinglets look like Christmas balls. If it is already very difficult to see the beetle, then it can be detected by singing, the range of which is very high and resembles the sounds of “chi-chi-chi”.
Among the kinglets there are both sedentary birds and migratory (nomadic) birds. The former are constantly tied to one place of deployment and do not leave it, the latter migrate over long distances or roam for not so long stretches from their permanent place of residence. As a rule, birds living in the south are sedentary, and northern birds are migratory. Usually beetles do not leave the limits of growth of spruce forests.
Interesting fact: Migratory beetles can travel from 200 to 800 km in one day, only if there is a fair wind.
Often during their migrations, they stop within the boundaries of human settlements, where they rest and refresh themselves. It should be noted that tiny birds do not experience fear of humans and are quite loyal to people, not avoiding or fearing bipeds.
Social structure and reproduction
The wedding season for yellow-headed beetles lasts from April, capturing the beginning of summer. Birds attract the opposite sex to themselves, puffing up their bright tuft, which at this time even more resembles a crown. The flutter of wings, the singing of roulades, the spreading of short tails serve as signs of attracting attention.
Having found a partner for themselves, the males acquire their own site, which is carefully guarded from all sorts of encroachments. If a competitor is still present, then the male threatens him, ruffling his tuft, spreading his wings, bending forward with his whole body. If frightening maneuvers do not help, then rivals enter the fray.
An interesting fact: The lands of one family pair of kinglets most often extend to 18 trees, their average area is 0.25 hectares. This territory is enough to feed not only the couple, but also their offspring.
The cavalier is engaged in the construction of the nest. Nesting is usually located under the shade of thick spruce paws, which are excellent protection from bad weather. For construction, the male uses moss, lichens, small twigs, stems, which are held together with the help of a web of caterpillars and cocoons of various spiders, from the inside the bed is lined with fluff, feathers and animal hair.
The nest takes the form of a fairly deep and dense spherical cup, which is located at a height of 4 to 12 meters. The nest is about 10 cm in diameter and takes at least three weeks to build. If conditions are favorable, then the female is able to lay a couple of clutches, the first in April, and the second in mid-June. The clutch consists of 8 to 10 eggs, which are creamy in color and dotted with brownish speckles that form a pattern on the blunt side. length – 12 mm. The total mass of the entire clutch exceeds the mass of the female by about 20 percent.
The incubation period lasts for 16 days, the future mother is engaged in incubation, and the partner feeds her all the time. Babies are born without feathers and are completely helpless. In the first week, the mother cannot leave them, so the caring father rushes around like a frantic one to feed everyone, bringing food up to 300 times a day. A week later, the first fluff appears in the chicks, so the female herself flies out in search of food, both for herself and her offspring, making it easier for the winged father. Babies grow up rapidly and already at the age of twenty make the first sorties from their nest, and at the age of one month they are able to make independent flights.
An interesting fact: To protect babies, parents carefully clean up after them taking away the shells from eggs and the feces of babies.
It must be added that the life span measured by nature for kings is short, on average, these tiny songbirds live two or three years. Although centenarians are also known, who lived up to five years.
Natural enemies of the yellow-headed beetle
Small Kings have a hard time, and they have enough enemies in the wild.
Among them, one can list such birds of prey as:
- long-eared owl;
- grey owl.
The most insidious and notorious ill-wisher is the sparrowhawk. Of course, first of all, small chicks and inexperienced youngsters suffer from feathered predators. Korolkov often saves their briskness, resourcefulness and excessive mobility, so they can elude the impending threat and disguise themselves in dense branches. A migratory bird that stops to rest in a human settlement may well be attacked by an ordinary cat, which is not averse to hunting for birds.
Severe frosts and bad weather often harm kinglets. Birds save themselves by huddling and huddling closely together, their metabolism slows down and their body temperature drops to conserve energy. Such features help to survive severe twenty-five-degree frosts.
A person who constantly intervenes in natural biotopes, disrupting the life cycle of birds, can also be counted among the enemies of the kinglets. Cutting down forests, laying highways, expanding urban areas, worsening the ecological situation in general, people negatively affect the life of birds, which cannot but worry.
Population and species status
many, their populations have now undergone a significant decline. The notorious human factor is to blame for everything, which often acts as the main threat to many representatives of the fauna, including the yellow-headed beetle.
In the nineteenth century, uncontrolled felling of coniferous forests was carried out, which greatly thinned out the population of these small birds. This does not happen in all places of permanent deployment of birds, in many territories, on the contrary, the number of kinglets is still high. According to various data, it varies from 19 to 30 million breeding pairs.
So, the status of the population of yellow-headed beetles in different regions has a different state. In some habitats, the tiny yellow-headed bird needs to take certain protective measures.
Where there are few birds left, the main negative impacts were:
- reduction of spruce forest areas due to mass cutting down;
- human intervention in natural biotopes and their destruction;
- stormy, economic, human activity;
- pollution of the environment in general.
Yellow King King Guard
As it turned out, the population of yellow-headed beetles is not everywhere extensive, in some regions it has decreased significantly in recent years due to various human impacts on the environment. This worries many conservation organizations and forces them to take action to protect these small birds.
At the international level, the yellow-headed kinglet is listed in the second Appendix of the Berne Convention, listed in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention. The beetle is also listed in various regional Red Books. The yellow-headed beetle is listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Crimea as a rare species. The main limiting factor here is the reduction in the area of spruce forests. The kinglet is a red book bird in the expanses of Buryatia, where it is classified as a rare sedentary species. The bird was taken under protection in the territories of the Barguzinsky and Baikalsky reserves, and is also protected in the Zabaikalsky and Tunkinsky national parks.
The yellow-headed kinglet is a rare bird species in the Lipetsk region, where it is also listed in the local Red Book since 2003. Here, the bird is more common during winter flights, and during the nesting period it is considered a rarity. This is due to the lack of suitable nesting sites (tall spruce forests).
The main conservation measures in various regions are:
- Identification of permanent nesting sites and their inclusion in the lists protected areas;
- human non-interference in natural biotopes;
- study of the distribution and abundance of birds in a certain area;
- constant monitoring of the state of coniferous plantations in nesting areas;
- planting new spruce trees.
Summing up, it must be added that the tiny and sometimes defenseless yellow-headed beetle fills the human soul with enthusiasm, because its extraordinary love of life, excessive mobility , unsurpassed briskness, charge with vivacity and simply delight. A small bird often has to cope with various life difficulties, which she steadfastly overcomes. It is important that people treat this baby with special sensitivity and care, then the world around will become kinder and happier!