Key facts

Scientific name: Regulus regulus

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 610,000 pairs

Wintering birds: 3-5 million

Conservation status: Green

Length: 8 – 9 cm

Wingspan: 14 – 15 cm

Weight: 5 – 7 g


The goldcrest is Britain’s smallest bird.

They are a dull olive green with paler underparts and a gold stripe on their crown bordered with black. The male’s stipe is more orange than the female’s which is yellow in colour.

Juvenile goldcrests are similar to adults but don’t have the markings on the head.


Both male and female goldcrests build their nests which are hammock shaped suspended at the end of the branches of a conifer tree.

The nest is constructed from mosses, lichens and spider webs and lined with hair and feathers.

9-12 smooth pale eggs are incubated for about 16 days by female goldcrests. Both parents feed the young and they chicks fledge at 16-21 days.


Goldcrests eat mainly insects and spiders. During winter they will also eat seeds from the ground and may visit gardens for breadcrumbs and grated cheese.


Where to see them

Goldcrests are found mainly in pine forests although in winter they will join other flocks of birds.

They can be seen throughout the UK all year round and in winter are joined by large numbers from Scandinavia.


Michele Peron/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Goldcrests used to be known as woodcock pilots as it was thought impossible for them to fly across the North Sea so ornithologists believed they hitched a ride on the back of woodcocks.

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