- Minnesota Breeding Bird Distribution
- Breeding Habitat
- Population Abundance
- Literature Cited
A regular breeding resident, migrant, and winter visitant. The Golden-crowned Kinglet was uncommon during the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas (MNBBA).
Found across Canada from Labrador to British Columbia, south along the Pacific Coast to California, and patchily distributed in the Rocky Mountains. Occurs in northern areas of the Upper Midwest and the northeastern United States, south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. Highest densities are found along the Pacific coast from California to British Columbia (Figure 1).
Assigned a Continental Concern Score of 8/20 by Partners in Flight.
Short-distance migrant that winters throughout much of the United States, including within many of its breeding areas.
Small arthropods, gleaned from foliage, especially in coniferous trees.
Pensile cup nest suspended from fork in a conifer tree.
Roberts (1932) described the Golden-crowned Kinglet as locally common in the evergreen forests as far south as northern Isanti County and west to Itasca State Park. He listed “definite” nesting in Aitkin (feeding young out of the nest), Cass (feeding young out of nest), Cook (nest, small young) Isanti (nest building), Itasca (feeding young), and St. Louis (building nest) Counties, as well as at Itasca State Park (family of old and young with young being fed) and at Mille Lacs (nest with young). He also noted that there were “numerous reliable reports” that it nests throughout the Canadian area of the state, presumably referring to the extreme northern regions close to the Canadian border.
Over 40 years later, Green and Janssen (1975) reported that the species occurred in northern regions, sparingly in the eastern north-central regions, and as far west as Tamarac and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuges. Breeding records occurred as far south as Mille Lacs and Ramsey Counties. They added confirmed nesting in Hubbard County and inferred nesting from Koochiching and Lake Counties. Several years later, Janssen (1987) outlined a more restricted distribution to northern Pine County and west to Clearwater and Roseau Counties; he acknowledged breeding observations from both Agassiz and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuges, and former breeding records as far south as Ramsey County. Hertzel and Janssen (1998) summarized confirmed nesting since 1970 in 5 counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Clearwater, Lake, and St. Louis.
The Minnesota Biological Survey reported 350 breeding season locations during its surveys of Minnesota’s counties (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2016). Locations of extensive breeding observations ranged from Itasca County to Cook County, south to northern Mille Lacs and Pine Counties, southwest to Morrison and Douglas Counties, west to Becker County, and northwest to eastern Marshall and Roseau Counties. These observations expanded the breeding range outlined by Janssen (1987) to the south, southwest, and western portions of Minnesota.
The MNBBA reported 981 records for the Golden-crowned Kinglet, which were almost exclusively within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province, including a few probable nesting records from the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands Province (Figure 2). New confirmed nesting records were from Carlton, Crow Wing, Koochiching, and Pine Counties, and there were extensive records from both Lake and St. Louis Counties. Breeding records were recorded from 10.3% (489 blocks of 4,737) of the blocks surveyed in the state (Figure 3; Table 1). Probable nesting records were from Becker, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, and Roseau Counties; possible nesting was found in Todd County.
Whether there have been changes in the breeding distribution of the Golden-crowned Kinglet over the past 150 years in Minnesota is unclear. Roberts (1932) states little about the species’ breeding distribution south of northern Isanti County; Green and Janssen (1975) cite breeding observations and inferred nesting south to Ramsey County. Few breeding observations have been reported from areas south of Aitkin County, but the MNBBA found possible nesting from northern Mille Lacs County and a confirmed nesting from east-central Pine County (Figure 2).
The predicted probability map identified potentially suitable habitat south to Chisago County and in the northwest to Kittson County with patches in eastern Marshall County, Red Lake County, and the eastern portion of Becker and Otter Tail Counties (Figure 4).
Wisconsin’s Breeding Bird Atlas found confirmed nesting in La Crosse and Waukesha Counties (Cutright et al. 2006), both of which are much farther south than confirmed nesting observations in Minnesota. Swanson et al. (2012) reported range expansions in the eastern United States and southward extensions of its range in spruce plantations since the mid-1980s in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Chartier et al. (2013) suggested that the current distribution of the Golden-crowned Kinglet in Michigan is likely similar to its distribution in the early 20th century. They stated that extensive logging in the early and mid-1900s may have reduced its range, but it has recently expanded with the maturation of second-growth coniferous forests. Nesting by the Golden-crowned Kinglet in other parts of Minnesota should be scrutinized, especially in early spring where spruce or coniferous forest patches exist. The species’ high-frequency song can be easily missed.
*Note that the definition of confirmed nesting of a species is different for Breeding Bird Atlas projects, including the definition used by the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas, compared with a more restrictive definition used by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. For details see the Data Methods Section.