The Goldcrest is a tiny round ball of feathers, and is the smallest bird to be found in Europe.
Goldcrests are widespread across Britain and much of Europe with the exception of the far northern reaches of Scandinavia. They can be seen in many gardens, as well as hedgerows, bushes and woodland, especially coniferous forests.
Goldcrests are agile little birds, flicking constantly from bough to bough, picking at aphids or flycatching. When not moving through the treetops, Goldcrests are equally at home ‘foraging’ through small bushes and grass.
Aside from the obvious tiny size, Goldcrests are strikingly marked birds and the males and females, when seen well, can be easily separated. In the winter months, Goldcrests will often join up with the local roving tit flock, as they search for food through gardens and woods.
The male’s song is a distinctive, flourishing affair, a ‘seeh, zeeda-zeeda-sissisyn-see’. The call is a high-pitched, short, rapid ‘zee zee zee’.
The head of the Goldcrest shows a pale greyish face, which contrasts with the olivey cheeks, nape and sides of the crown. The centre of the crown shows an obvious orangey-yellow stripe, bordered black. The mantle and rump are olive-green, with a slightly darker tail. The wings are blackish, with bold creamy wing bars and edges to the feathers. The underparts are buffy-white, washed grey. The tiny, thin bill is black, the large ‘surprised’- looking eye is also black, while the legs and feet are dark orangey brown.
The female Goldcrest basically resembles the male except forthe crown stripe, which is bright yellow, lacking any of the male’s orange tones.
When displaying, the male Goldcrest will raise his crown feathers as a signal to the female. The ‘rippling’ effect is very striking as the crown feathers are spread to reveal the orange feathering.
Ever active, the Goldcrest flicks its wings continuously during a seemingly relentless search for food among trees. They are particularly partial to flies and spiders and will also eat greenfly, beetle larvae and moths.
The juvenile Goldcrest is a dull version of the adult. The upperparts are brownertinged and they lack any sort of markings on the crown, except for perhaps some black on the crown sides. The bare parts are as the adult’s.