Family Kinglets and Firecrests (Regulidae)

Least Concern

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)


French: Roitelet huppé German: Wintergoldhähnchen Spanish: Reyezuelo sencillo
Other common names: European Goldcrest, Common Goldcrest, Tenerife Goldcrest, Tenerife Kinglet (teneriffae)

Motacilla Regulus


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Canary Is race teneriffae (with, by implication, recently described race ellenthalerae) treated variously as a race of R. ignicapilla or as a separate species, but acoustic and molecular markers indicate that Canarian populations belong with W Palearctic complex of races of present species that also includes nominate and the three Azores races (inermis, azoricus, sanctaemarie). These W races are opposed to a complex of E Asian races, and acoustic and genetic divergence between the two groups is evidently high. Further, on Azores, race azoricus (from São Miguel) apparently does not represent a monophyletic taxon but is evidently separated into an E group, with affiliation to sanctaemariae (from Santa Maria), and a W population that genetically belongs to inermis (W islands of Azores). In addition, geographical variation partly clinal, birds becoming darker and slightly larger from W to E in Palearctic; buturlini and hyrcanus possibly not truly separable. Another morphological cline in S Asia, from dark greyish plumage in Himalayan himalayensis towards brighter colours in Chinese sikkimensis and yunnanensis; these three taxa not vocally or genetically differentiated, either, and subspecific separation possibly unreliable. Taxonomy of this species clearly in need of revision, but must be based on thorough revision of genus. Otherwise, proposed races anglorum (from Britain) and interni (from Corsica) synonymized with nominate, although latter, at least, exhibits slight acoustic differentiation from neighbouring continental populations. Fourteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. r. regulus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe and W Siberia.
  • R. r. coatsi Sushkin, 1904 – C Siberia (E to Altai and L Baikal area).
  • R. r. inermis Murphy & Chapin, 1929 – W & C Azores (Flores, Faial, São Jorge, Pico, Terceira).
  • R. r. azoricus Seebohm, 1883 – São Miguel, in E Azores.
  • R. r. sanctaemariae Vaurie, 1954 – Santa Maria, in SE Azores.
  • R. r. ellenthalerae Päckert, 2006 – W Canary Is (La Palma, El Hierro).
  • R. r. teneriffae Seebohm, 1883 – WC Canary Is (La Gomera, Tenerife).
  • R. r. buturlini Loudon, 1911 – Crimea, Asia Minor and Caucasus.
  • R. r. hyrcanus Zarudny, 1910 – N Iran.
  • R. r. tristis Pleske, 1892 – Tien Shan.
  • R. r. himalayensis Bonaparte, 1856 – E Afghanistan E to W Himalayas.
  • R. r. sikkimensis R. Meinertzhagen & A. C. Meinertzhagen, 1926 – E Nepal and E Himalayas E to NC China (NE Qinghai E to SW Gansu).
  • R. r. yunnanensis Rippon, 1906 – C China (S Shaanxi and Sichuan S to SE Xizang and N Yunnan) and NE Myanmar.
  • R. r. japonensis Blakiston, 1862 – SE Siberia (Amur–Ussuri region), Sakhalin, S Kuril Is and Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu).
  • Descriptive notes

    8·5–9·5 cm; 4·6–7·1 g. Tiny olive passerine, fairly compact in appearance, with distinctive face pattern. Male nominate race has... read more


    Territorial song composed of a stereotype high-pitched main part and a shorter, highly variable... read more


    Boreal forests dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies) and fir (Abies); on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods. Generally adapted to small-sized prey, such as springtails (Collembola), aphids (Aphidoidea), small moths (Lepidoptera) and... read more


    Beginning of nesting activities from end of Mar, nest records mainly from first week Apr; two broods per breeding season. Nest built by... read more


    Chiefly migratory. Only N Fennoscandian breeding grounds (mainly in Finland) completely abandoned... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant. Marked range extension after planting of spruce forests in C Europe in 19th century. Numbers fluctuate,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martens, J. & Päckert, M. (2020). Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).