Ruby-crowned Kinglet – A Sideways Takeoff

And this guy’s even showing off some of his ruby crown.

Once I learned last week that it was actually possible to get a sharp shot of a diabolically fast Ruby-crowned Kinglet in flight or at takeoff I made it a point to attempt doing exactly that whenever the opportunity presented itself. Doing so involved using astronomically fast shutter speeds (1/5000 to 1/8000 sec.) when I could get them and framing the bird so I had enough room in the direction I thought it might take off.

I missed some shots I’d likely have been able to get without those efforts but I did succeed a few times and this image is one of them.


1/6400, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This male had been perched on the vertical twig on the right (obviously) but while perched he was side-lit and most of my photos didn’t have a catch light in the eye. But when he took off he launched at the perfect angle to give me light in the eye and on the face and an intimate look at the head of a kinglet in flight (or very nearly so, one foot is still touching the twig). I love this stretched-out pose and I had no idea their legs were that long.

The out-of-focus foliage at left is a bother but the kinglet has a mostly clean background and I still find the photo interesting in a fun way. The wings are soft because of a shallow depth of field rather than lack of sufficient shutter speed.

In my recent kinglet posts several readers have asked questions similar to this: “If this bird is called a Ruby-crowned Kinglet why don’t I see a ruby crown?”. The answer is twofold: 1, only males have the ruby crown and 2, the crown is usually hidden in other feathers on top of the head. This bird decided to give us a peek at part of what’s really underneath them.

Sometime down the road I’ll likely post more kinglet images that give us an even better look at that spectacular crimson crown.




25 comments to Ruby-crowned Kinglet – A Sideways Takeoff

  • Joanne OBrien

    I agree with Elephant’s Child – Wow wow wow! That’s exactly what I was going to write and then I saw her comment. (Great minds and all that…) What a fantastic photo. A photographer’s dream shot. Cant give it enough superlatives.

  • Wow, wow, and wow.
    It looks such an impossible pose. The legs are incredible. Inspector Gadget legs.
    And I do love seeing a little of the crown.

  • Laura Culley

    These little kinglets are truly spectacular. And this shot reminds me that I often ponder the sheer audacity of birds when they take off, open their wings and they fly! Seriously, that’s akin to the sheer audacity of putting a seed into the dirt and it sprouts into a living, growing, breathing plant that either decorates our lives or feeds us (or sticks us like cactus). When you think about it, that those two things happen at all is a miracle!
    That’s enough philosophy for the day. We’re off to the Grand Canyon!
    As always, thank you SO much for sharing YOUR magic. This is an excellent way to begin my day!! You ROCK!

  • Susan Stone

    Something about this pose makes it hard for me to grasp the wing placement on this bird. To me they look like they are not in a normal place, even though I know that’s not possible, especially for him to fly. It’s nice to finally catch a glimpse of that ruby crown. I also noticed that this little guy apparently has raptor britches, something I’ve never noticed before on a songbird.

  • Patty Chadwick

    A wonderful catch! These guys are so tiny and so fast I am amzed thst you were able to capture this one so clearly. They are the original perpetual motion machines!!!

  • Marty K

    Lovely! The stretched pose and the pop of red totally make the shot! You nailed it again, Ron! Dems be somes mad skillz! 🙂

  • Mary K

    This is amazing. Special. I have never seen this dynamic pose before, and I think it may be quite a bit more than you say. I was thinking, award-winning!

  • Shirley

    I love that shot … I love you and your Blog! I can’t leave the house & go to work without having a quick look at Feathered Photography, you make my day, thanks so much Ron!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Sensational Ron!


  • April Olson

    You post of the Kinglets have been beautiul. I did not know much about this little bird until we had one brought to our house for transport to the rehab. My daughter knew it had a red patch on it’s head but I did not. I thought when I first saw the red feathers it had a head injury. Haley laughed at me and showed me the crown, thus the name.

  • Astonishing! And I love the little feet. Thanks for explaining about the ruby crown, too.

  • Judy Gusick

    BINGO! You got it! 🙂 Wonderful photo catching the action and a bit of the “crown”. 🙂 REALLY has the stretch on with this take off. Seems you found the formula for them – your persistence has paid off.