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Firecrest - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies ignicapilla
Photo © by Kevin Wade
Marbella, Spain, 24 April 2019
Regulus ignicapilla

Regulus ignicapillus
Includes: Madeira Firecrest


ssp. balearica
Photo © by IanF
Costa de los Pinos, Mallorca Spain, September 2006

Length 9 cm (3½ in), weight 5-7 g

  • Red (male) or orange-red (female) crown with black borders
  • Gold forehead
  • White supercilium
  • Black eye-stripe
  • Bronzy patch on shoulder
  • Bright olive-gree back
  • Whitish underparts

Juvenile similar to adults but without the red crown or black crown border.

Similar Species

Goldcrest lacks the black and white head pattern, and is duller green above, less white below.


Patchy and discontinuous range in Europe breeding from Brittany, east across Europe, north to southern England and southern Denmark, to about 30 degrees east in Ukraine.

In the south breeds in the northern half of Iberia and south of Spain, central and southern France, Italy and parts of the Balkans and Greece, and locally around the Black Sea in parts of northern Turkey and the Caucasus.

Also breeds on Madeira, Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and locally in northwest Africa.

Very small numbers breed in Britain, mainly in southern England and the New Forest in particular; elsewhere in Britain a scarce passage migrant, particularly on the east coast.

Northern and eastern populations are migratory wintering in western Europe and around the Mediterranean, birds from remainder of range are largely resident.

Recorded as a vagrant in Finland.



There are two to five subspeces[1][2][3]:

  • R. i. ignicapilla:
  • R. i. caucasicus: brighter, with golden neck patch (not considered distinct by some authorities[1])
  • Western Caucasus
  • R. i. tauricus: duller and darker (not considered distinct by some authorities[1])
  • Crimea
  • R. i. balearicus: has greyer plumage
  • R. i. madeirensis: is longer-billed with duller crown stripe and shorter supercilium
  • Madeira (eastern Atlantic Ocean). Treated as a separate species Madeira Firecrest Regulus madeirensis by several authorities[2][3].


Breeds in deciduous, mixed and coniferous forest, also evergreen oak and tree-heath around the Mediterranean. Generally lower to the ground that Goldcrest, often in scrub, thickets and swampy areas.


Similar to Goldcrest, but tends to be a little more mobile, moving faster through shrubs and trees when feeding.


Undulating flight. Often hovers when feeding in the tree canopy.


The diet consists mainly of small insects and spiders.


The nest is suspended under a conifer or other evergreen branch.


Slightly lower pitched than Goldcrest, with a sharper, more incisive sound to some ears. Song lacks the high, pulsating quality that Goldcrest has.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2006. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553064
  4. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition ISBN 0 00 219900 9

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