Five Image Series Of A Rousing Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Rousing is a behavior I’d never before photographed in either kinglet species.

Note: If you want to get technical (and maybe I should have been more precise and accurate) the term “rousing” only applies to raptors. The same behavior/action is called “settling” in other birds, including kinglets. When I first learned about rousing I thought it applied to all birds and for me it’s been a difficult habit to “shake” (sorry about the bad pun.). Personally I don’t see the need for the distinction so perhaps someone can explain that to me…

 

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

About a month ago in remote Box Elder County this Ruby-crowned Kinglet was unusually cooperative. Not only did it pose for me on an appealing scrub oak perch with a mostly clean background and in good light but it did so for a fairly extended amount of time, especially for a kinglet. Throw in the interesting rousing (settling) behavior and some fairly good looks at its ruby crown and I couldn’t be happier.

I seldom see much if any of that ruby crown. It’s usually kept hidden unless the bird is agitated and that happens most often during the breeding season. But their nests, usually in conifers, average about 50′ off the ground so I rarely see these birds while they’re nesting. Usually I see kinglets during migration when their scarlet crown is revealed much less often so I was delighted when this bird gave me several fairly good looks at it (the best look at the crown is in an upcoming photo).

 

 

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

Rousing is a common grooming behavior of birds where they erect their feathers and shake them so they’ll fall comfortably into place again. It also shakes out any debris in their feathers and when they do it it’s usually a sign of a relaxed and contented bird. In my experience with kinglets they’re seldom relaxed or contented so photographing this behavior was a real treat for me.

 

 

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

By necessity feathers move very fast during rousing in any species but the smaller the bird the faster they tend to move. Kinglets are tiny so during rousing their plumage moves at blinding speed and this was another one of those times when my exceptionally fast shutter speed paid off because there’s very little motion blur, even in the flight feathers. Those ripples in the tail feathers are an indication of just how fast they were actually moving. I love that little detail.

 

 

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

While processing this last rousing shot I made a mistake. Can you spot it?

 

 

1/5000, 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

A second or so after the rouse was over the kinglet even dipped its head to give me a much better look at that ruby crown. Because of the head angle I didn’t get any light in the eye but that’s a tradeoff I’ll gladly make in this situation.

In all five of these photos the ruby crown is only revealed instead of raised or erected. When its erected it’s a spectacular sight to see and I’ve observed a flash of it raised a time or two but so far that image has always eluded my camera.

Maybe some day…

Ron

 

 

 

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