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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Little Kings at Lake St. Clair Starring Golden-crowned Kinglet

[Lake St. Clair, Fall 2015]

For most of mankind's history, oppression has, not infrequently, stemmed from the institutions of the monarchy (and their partners in the clergy). For this reason, man's struggle for a more equitable way of life has inspired popular revolutions in the US, France, Russia and elsewhere to overthrow the autocratic rule of kings, emperors and tsars. 

Yet while royalty has been largely abolished in today's world, their namesakes live on in the Aves -- witness species such as kingbirds, emperors, and kinglets (and their partners in the clergy-inspired Bishops, Prothonotaries, and Cardinals!). 

And, while the US is firmly established as a Republic since the late 1700's, we still have two "little kings" that rule our forests across the country year-round. In this post, we will review these "royal" kinglets as well as some "commoner" species found in the woods of Lake St. Clair Metropark:

  1. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  3. Hermit Thrush
  4. Swainson's Thrush
  5. Veery
  6. Eastern Wood Pewee
  7. Brown Creeper
  8. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  9. White-throated Sparrow
  10. Baltimore Oriole
  11. American Goldfinch
  12. Carolina Wren
  13. White-breasted Nuthatch
  14. Swamp Sparrow
We start with Golden-crowned Kinglet:

Golden-crowned Kinglet has a huge range in the US -- breeding in the Northeast and the Northwest and wintering pretty much throughout the country excepting Florida.

Disambiguation with the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is fairly straightforward even when the crown isn't visible -- note the black whiskers and white supercilium on the Golden-crowned compared to the oval eye-ring and plainer appearance of the Ruby-crowned:

Every year at the "Warbler Mecca" that is Magee Marsh -- these kinglets cause immense confusion in beginning (or perfunctory) birders when these songbirds are seen with the similarly sized warblers flitting through the branches.

And now for the "commoner" species --

Hermit Thrush -- frequently seen at this venue in migration:

Swainson's Thrush -- note the buffy spectacles:

The very delightful Veery:

Eastern Wood Pewee:

Brown Creeper -- described as "animated bark":

Ruby-throated Hummingbird:

White-throated Sparrow:

Baltimore Oriole:

American Goldfinch:

Carolina Wren -- while this wren is common to abundant in SW Florida, in Michigan it is quite uncommon at this venue:

White-breasted Nuthatch -- a year-round species here:

Swamp Sparrow:

Both species of "little kings" are seen in migration at Lake St. Clair -- and, these distinctive kinglets remind us that their feathered crowns are symbolic of nothing more than evolutionary traits in their propagation; and, not a mark of inequality as so often has been the case in man's history.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

You've reminded me of the thrill in observing kinglets in the Florida Panhandle last year. Enjoyed this post very much.