Despite the cold northern gale this week the Goldcrest sang loudly in Hellisskógur forest by Selfoss. But you need a good hearing to notice its high pitched voice. Spring is the time for mating and breeding. Singing loudly attracts others of its kind and hopefully this one has bred by now. The weather this winter and spring has not been favourable to these little birds who mostly depend on spiders and the eggs of insects for survival.
The Goldcrest, which is the smallest bird in Europe, was a vagrant in Iceland until 1995 when a flock of them got blown of course and they started breeding here. Now they are counted among Icelandic inhabitants. The Goldcrest can be found in most pine and spruce forests in Iceland.
One of a great many advantages of forestation is the increase in bird species. With growing spruce forests the Goldcrest has now spread over most of Iceland and become a native here. Its main habitat is spruce forests as its main food source are aphids that suck sap from spruce trees. Goldcrests are usually non-migratory birds but little is known about their behaviour in Iceland. Some birds stay here the whole winter but whether part of them migrate is not known.
The warm and sunny summer here in the South was very favourable for breeding and a great number of Goldcrests can now be seen in forests in South Iceland.
I was thrilled to see that the Goldcrest, one of our new pioneers, has had no problems surviving and multiplying this summer. Adult birds as well as chicks can be seen in the forests in Grímsnes, South Iceland. Despite the cold and wet summer in the South these small and delicate creatures have managed the breed and the chicks to thrive. Our worries were needless, they are obviously more robust than we thought. A mere bad summer will not affect their life here in the North Atlantic.
On my hike in Grímsnes last week I saw Goldcrests in all the woodland areas that I visited and in one place I spotted five chicks that had newly taken flight.
The Goldcrest has not been among the birds that visit our garden on a regular basis. Every once in a while we would hear it and less frequently a bird would be seen but not for extended periods. However, these last few weeks there have been at least two who have stuck around.
The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in Europe. It was a vagrant in Iceland but is now counted among its inhabitants. Its song is very high pitched so those who have started losing hearing can not hear it.
After a fairly mild winter and rather good summer there is enough feed for them, such as spruce aphids which is often their main diet. The numbers of Goldcrests in Iceland is on the rise and more often they are now seen in towns although their main habitat is in spruce forests in the country.
The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in Europe, weighing only six grams. It is an immigrant in Iceland and now part of the Icelandic birdlife. Since the first breeding was confirmed in 1996 it has spread over the country and breeds in spruce trees. It is an amazing little creature, – such a beautiful bird. I saw some of them today in Grímsnes, South Iceland.
After a warm summer Goldcrests have prospered in Icelandic forests. They mostly keep to spruce trees but can also be spotted in larch trees, birch and contorta pine groves.
The winter should also be a good one for these little birds that once were vagrants. Their main food source in South Iceland are minute bugs called aphids that suck sap from spruce trees. These aphids are now reproducing rapidly on the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).
We spotted at least four Goldcrests last week in Hellisskógur by Selfoss.
Today I saw a Goldcrest in a grove in Hellisskógur in Selfoss. This is the first Goldcrest I spot since December. I was beginning to think they had all died in the blizzards and cold this winter. But here at least is one that endured throughout the winter and I am amazed at its resilience.
This winter has been the toughest in the south of Iceland in 15 years and therefore quite a feat for a small bird like the Goldcrest to survive. The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in Europe, weighing only 5-7 grammes. In 1996 the first known breeding in Iceland was confirmed and since then their numbers have been increasing.