Regulus regulus (Linnaeus, 1758) GC GOLDC 13140
Family: Passeriformes > Regulidae

Goldcrest, Philip Croft

Widely distributed throughout Britain & Ireland, this tiny songbird vies with the closely-related Firecrest for the title of our smallest breeding bird.

Being so small (5-6 g), Goldcrests are vulnerable in cold weather, and as such numbers fluctuate depending on the harshness of the seasons. In winter, the resident Goldcrest population is bolstered by arrivals from Fennoscandia, and impressive numbers can sometimes be found on the east coast in the autumn, recovering in the dunes after their long flight across the North Sea.

Despite their small size, female Goldcrests can lay up to 12 eggs in a clutch (one and a half times an adult's bodyweight). Goldcrests have an overall olive appearance, with their eponymous stripe on the top of their heads, which is more orange in males and yellow in females. Goldcrests can often be seen searching trees, especially conifers, for small invertebrate prey. Their high-pitched, repetitive song can also be a good way to find one.

Exploring the trends for Goldcrest

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Goldcrest population is changing.

trends explorer


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

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 Goldcrest, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call



Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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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.



Goldcrest abundance is affected unusually severely by winter weather, and the strong increase in the species' CBC/BBS index up to the mid 1970s can be interpreted as recovery from the cold winters of the early 1960s. The subsequent decline temporarily moved the species to the amber list, but its status has now been restored to green. The long-term trend looks very much like a series of damped oscillations following recovery from the 1962/63 winter. BBS has recorded some initial increase in all UK countries, followed by a long decline that ended around 2010, although a further decline has occurred in Wales since 2015 and the overall decline in Wales from 1995-2018 is of sufficient magnitude to trigger a higher level alert. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that decrease occurred over that period in southwestern England, Wales and Caithness but that increases occurred elsewhere, especially in Northern Ireland and western Scotland. There has been a decline across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Goldcrest

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Goldcrest population is changing.

trends explorer


Winter and breeding-season distributions of the Goldcrest are similar with birds found in 90% of 10-km squares in winter and 88% of squares in the breeding season. The main gaps in distribution occur in the treeless landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, Outer Hebrides, Northern Isles and the Fens in England. The highest densities in both seasons are found in Ireland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


Modest gains in the number of occupied 10-km squares have been recorded in both winter and the breeding season.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Goldcrest is recorded year-round on around 15% of complete lists, increasing to almost 30% in autumn when there is a large arrival of birds from the continent.

Weekly occurence of Goldcrest 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 Goldcrest 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 Goldcrest, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Goldcrest

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Goldcrest population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Goldcrest

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Goldcrest population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Gaelic: Crìonag-bhuidhe
Welsh: Dryw Eurben
Catalan: reietó eurasiàtic
Czech: králícek obecný
Danish: Fuglekonge
Dutch: Goudhaan
Estonian: pöialpoiss
Finnish: hippiäinen
French: Roitelet huppé
German: Wintergoldhähnchen
Hungarian: sárgafeju királyka
Icelandic: Glókollur
Irish: Cíorbhuí
Italian: Regolo
Latvian: zeltgalvitis
Lithuanian: paprastasis nykštukas
Norwegian: Fuglekonge
Polish: mysikrólik (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: estrelinha-de-poupa
Slovak: králik zlatohlavý
Slovenian: rumenoglavi kraljicek
Spanish: Reyezuelo sencillo
Swedish: kungsfågel


Interpretation and scientific publications about Goldcrest from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

Severe weather is likely to have caused wide short-term variability in abundance, but there is little good evidence available regarding the drivers of the longer-term breeding population change in this species in the UK, although

Further information on causes of change

The high amplitude of year-to-year change reflects the species' high breeding potential, and its sensitivity to cold winter weather. Modelling suggests that climate change may have had a positive impact on the long-term trend for this species (Pearce-Higgins & Crick 2019). CBC had relatively poor coverage of conifer plantations, in which Goldcrests occur at increasing densities as the trees mature. A general increase in the area of prime habitat has therefore been poorly reflected in the long-term trend.

Information about conservation actions

Annual changes in Goldcrest abundance are probably driven mainly by winter weather and hence specific conservation options for this species may be limited. Numbers may increase in the future due to warming from climate change, although this is uncertain as the effects of climate change could include increased frequency of severe weather events.

Links to more information from

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