Online Encyclopedia

KINGLET

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 810 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KINGLET, a name applied in many books to the bird called by Linnaeus Motacilla regulus, and by most modern ornithologists Regulus cristatus, the golden-crested or golden-crowned wren of ordinary persons. This species is the type of a small group which has been generally placed among the Sylviidae or true warblers, but by certain systematists it is referred to the titmouse family, Paridae. That the kinglets possess many of the habits and actions of the latter is undeniable, but on the other hand they are not known to differ in any important points of organization or appearance from the former—the chief distinction being that the nostril is covered by a single bristly feather directed forwards. The golden-crested wren is the smallest of British birds, its whole length being about 31 in., and its wing measuring only 2 in. from the carpal joint. Generally of an olive-green colour, the top of its head is bright yellow, deepening into orange, and bounded on either side by a black line, while the wing coverts are dull black, and some of them tipped with white, forming a somewhat conspicuous bar. The cock has a pleasant but weak song. The nest is a beautiful object, thickly felted of the softest moss, wool, and spiders' webs, lined with feathers, and usually built under and near the end of the branch of a yew, fir or cedar, supported by the inter-weaving of two or three laterally diverging and pendent twigs, and sheltered by the rest. The eggs are from six to ten in number, of a dull white sometimes finely freckled with reddish-brown. The species is particularly social, living for the most part of the year in family parties, and often joining bands of any species of titmouse in a common search for food. Though to be met with in Britain at all seasons, the bird in autumn visits the east coast in enormous flocks, apparently emigrants from Scandinavia, while hundreds perish in crossing the North Sea, where they are well known to the fishermen as " woodcock's pilots." A second and more local European species is the fire-crested wren, R. ignicapillus, easily recognizable by the black streak on each side of the head, before and behind the eye, as well as by the deeper colour of its crown. A third species, R. maderensis, inhabits the Madeiras, to which it is peculiar; and examples from the Himalayas and Japan have been differentiated as R. himalayensis and R. japonicas. North America has two well-known species, R. satrapa, very like the European R. ignicapillus, and the ruby-crowned wren, R. calendula, which is remarkable for a loud song that has been compared to that of a canary-bird or a skylark, and for having the characteristic nasal feather in a rudimentary or aborted condition. (A. N.)
End of Article: KINGLET
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ALEXANDER WILLIAM KINGLAKE (1809-1891)
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