Regulus ignicapilla (Temminck, 1820) FC FIREC 13150
Family: Passeriformes > Regulidae

Firecrest, Chris Knights

Firecrests could be considered 'souped-up' Goldcrests, closely resembling the latter in size, sound, behaviour and overall appearance, but with brighter and bolder makings.

The Firecrest a summer visitor to Britain & Ireland. It was first recorded breeding in Hampshire in 1962, and has since extended its breeding range north through much of southern, central and eastern England and into Wales. This species is only recorded on passage on the island of Ireland. In winter, some Firecrests migrate across the North Sea from Fennoscandia, and then this species is found more widely, including on the west coast of Wales and the Northern and Western Island of Scotland.

Like Goldcrests, Firecrests can often be found combing trees and bushes, especially conifers, for small invertebrate prey. They may form flocks with other small birds in autumn and winter. Their striking facial markings most easily set them apart from Goldcrests. They have prominent black and white head stripes as well as their crowning crests, which are more orange in males and more yellow in females.


Firecrest identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Firecrest.

related video

Identifying Goldcrest and Firecrest

The tiny Goldcrest, is a common year-round bird, found mainly in woodland and gardens. Its much rarer cousin, the Firecrest, is found in similar habitats. Can you tell the two species apart?


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Firecrest, provided by xeno-canto contributors.


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Firecrest was first confirmed to have bred in the UK in 1962 in Hampshire (Adams 1966). The breeding distribution is concentrated on southern and eastern England and the range has strongly increased since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas (Balmer et al. 2013). Breeding records from Wales and northern England (Balmer et al. 2013) suggest further range expansion is likely. Intensive survey efforts have confirmed that large local breeding populations occur at some key sites such as the New Forest in Hampshire and it has been suggested that the UK population could number over 4,000 pairs (Clements et al. 2017), although population density may be highly variable and hence further more widespread surveys are needed to produce a robust national population estimate.


The Firecrest's breeding distribution is heavily concentrated within southeast and eastern England between Hampshire and Norfolk, with scattered records in Wales, southern and northern England. Densities are highest in southern England with local concentrations in East Anglia, Wales and Gloucestershire. This inland breeding distribution differs markedly from the mostly coastal distribution in winter.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The change in breeding distribution is astounding, with a 935% increase in occupation of 10-km squares since the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Firecrest is a scarce winter visitor and rare breeder and autumn passage migrant.

Weekly occurence of Firecrest from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Firecrest ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Firecrest, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report



For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Dryw Penfflamgoch
Catalan: bruel eurasiàtic
Czech: králícek ohnivý
Danish: Rødtoppet Fuglekonge
Dutch: Vuurgoudhaan
Estonian: lääne-pöialpoiss
Finnish: tulipäähippiäinen
French: Roitelet triple-bandeau
German: Sommergoldhähnchen
Hungarian: tüzesfeju királyka
Icelandic: Gullkollur
Irish: Lasairchíor
Italian: Fiorrancino
Latvian: sartgalvitis
Lithuanian: baltabruvis nykštukas
Norwegian: Rødtoppfuglekonge
Polish: zniczek (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: estrelinha-real
Slovak: králik ohnivohlavý
Slovenian: rdeceglavi kraljicek
Spanish: Reyezuelo listado
Swedish: brandkronad kungsfågel


Interpretation and scientific publications about Firecrest from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The colonisation of the UK has followed considerable range expansion across continental Europe since the 1960s and mirrors the colonisation and rapid population growth in the Netherlands (Batten 1973; Hustings 2002). The reasons for this expansion are not known. It seems probable that climate change may have played a role in the recent rapid expansion but it is unclear whether or not this is the main driver and it is likely that other factors have also been important at least in the early stages of the colonisation which began before the effects of climate change became apparent.

Links to more information from

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