Orange crown patch (male) or yellow crown patch (female) bordered by yellow and black; white eyebrow; black eye stripe; olive-gray above; dark wings; two white wing bars; whitish below. 10 cm (4 in) in length.
The breeding season begins in early May, peaks later that month until early June, and extends through June. Nesting habitat is mostly conifer or mixed-conifer forest. The nest is usually 1-18 m (4-60 feet) high in a conifer. The female builds the nest out of moss, lichen, leaves, and spider webs. The nest is suspended under the branch of an evergreen, usually near the branch's outer edge. The female lays 5-11 (usually 8-9) eggs that she incubates for 14-15 days. The young are altricial and fledge 14-19 days after hatching. Both the male and female tend to the young while they are in the nest and for a period after fledging.
The primary habitat of the Golden-crowned Kinglet includes coniferous forests, but it also uses mixed forests. Its diet consists mostly of insects, spiders, and occasional fruits and seeds. This kinglet forages by moving among the tree branches and leaves, moving its wings to flush prey. It also picks insects off of branches, leaves, and needles of the trees.
This species occurs in the more mountainous regions of the United States during the breeding and non-breeding season, and occurs only during the non-breeding season in the remainder of the country. It is not found in southern peninsular Florida. In the Southeast it is common in spruce-fir forests during the breeding season, and throughout the region during the winter. In Georgia, the Golden-crowned Kinglet can only be seen in the winter. It is very common in the northeastern portion of the state and common through the remainder of the state.
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is listed as Threatened in North Carolina. This species suffered a decline in numbers, but seems to have recovered from that decline.
The most similar species is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet lacks the white eyebrow and black eye line. The ruby patch of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is not always visible.