The Goldcrest is the smallest European bird, 8.5-9.5 cm (3.3-3.7 in) long, with a 13.5-15.5 cm (5.3-6.1 in) wingspan and a mass of 4.5-7.0 g. It has olive-green upperparts, buff-white underparts, two white wing bars, and a plain face with black irises. The crown of the head has black sides and a narrow black front, and a bright crest, yellow with an orange centre in the male, and entirely yellow in the female.The small, thin bill is black, and the legs are dark flesh-brown. Apart from the crest colour, the sexes are alike, although in fresh plumage, the female may have very slightly paler upperparts and greyer underparts than the adult male. The juvenile is similar to the adult, but has duller upperparts and lacks the coloured crown.

Habitat and Distribution

The Goldcrest breeds in mature lowland and mountain coniferous woodlands, mainly up to 3,000 m and occasionally to 4,800 m. It uses spruce, Larch, Scots Pine, Silver Fir and Mountain Pine. The Goldcrest has a huge range in Eurasia, breeding from Macaronesia to Japan. It is common in middle and northern temperate and boreal latitudes of Europe. Birds winter in Europe and Asia south of the breeding range.


They are insectivorous, preying on small arthropods with soft cuticles, such as springtails, aphids and spiders. They also take cocoons and eggs of spiders and insects, and pollen. They catch flying insects while hovering.


The Goldcrest's nest is a well-insulated cup-shaped structure built in three layers. Laying of eggs starts at the end of April into early May. The eggs are whitish with very indistinct buff, grey or brown markings at the broad end. The clutch size in Europe is typically 9-11 eggs, but ranges from 6-13. The size of eggs increases gradually and the last laid egg may be 20% larger than the first egg. Second clutches, are laid usually while the first nest still has young. The male builds the second nest, then feeds the young in the first nest while the female is incubating in the second.

Calls and Songs

The typical contact call is a thin, high-pitched zee given at intervals of 1-4 seconds. The song of the male is a very high, thin double note cedar, repeated 5-7 times and ending in a flourish, cedar? cedar- cedar-cedar-cedar-stichi-seepee.