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Photographing The Smallest Bird In Europe!

Here are some tips to help you recognise and photograph the smallest bird in Europe.

| Eschenbach Trophy D 8x32 B ED in Animals / Wildlife

Photographing The Smallest Bird In Europe!: Goldcrest Eschenbach

Here are some tips to recognise and picture the smallest bird in Europe, the goldcrest.


The goldcrest weighs 4-8g, hardly more than an A4 sheet of paper. This makes it difficult to find, even with its yellow-green plumage. The narrow wings have black and white stripes and the legs are yellowish. On the brownish grey head sits large, black eyes, which are emphasised by a bright eye ring. The glowing golden crest of the males is the reason why the little birds are so called. This crest is framed in black and the goldcrest's body always looks slightly flared, because the head is not lifted by a long neck.




The small birds are widespread in Central Europe where their numbers are stable. The goldcrest also breeds in Scandinavia, Asia, Siberia and Japan. A very similar looking relative, the common firecrest, moves from Europe in winter to go to warmer regions while the goldcrests who breed in Scandinavia and other cold regions come to us in winter. It is likely that a goldcrest will cover more than 1,000 kilometres to get from its breeding area to a winter area. Crossing the North Sea and the Baltic Sea is a real challenge for the lightweight birds and they have to master it every year!


Photographing Tips

Goldcrest love needle trees, especially the spruce and for it to feel at home, the proportion of conifers in the forest has to be predominant. If you want to photograph it, forget the feeding house around the corner as Goldcrests spend 90% of the day bouncing happily in the trees in order to find insects, which are their only food-type and they drink from the rain drops in the branches. They also like to bathe in them, or even in fresh snow. The song of this bird species is very high pitched. It usually vibrates between two tones and sounds like "sisisisisisi".

Another specific feature of the goldcrest is their nest-building technique. They build hanging nests with the branches of spruces and firs as walls. Moss, lichens, hair and even spun yarns of caterpillars and spiders are used for stability, and the birds flock the inside of the nest with feathers. The male starts the building and the female helps a few days later. Goldcrests breed twice a year and the first eggs are laid in April. There are eight to eleven eggs in a nest and they don’t even weigh one gram each! When the chicks hatch, they stay with their parents for another 34 days. During this time, the female lays the next eggs in a new nest and the chicks are cared for by the male.


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