Goldcrests and Firecrests are similar birds, so identifying them can be difficult. In this guide, we'll highlight the main differences between both species to help you when it comes to telling them apart.
The main differences between the goldcrest and firecrest are their plumage, with goldcrests appearing duller compared to the more vibrant firecrest. Firecrests also have a bold white patch above their eyes (supercilium) and a strong black stripe through their eyes. Goldcrests have bright yellow stripes on the top of their heads, whereas firecrests have a vibrant orange stripe on the head, although female firecrests have a paler yellow colour.
There are more differences between the two, which we'll go into a little more detail below, but the above are generally the best way to tell the two apart.
Goldcrests are the smaller of the two with an average length of 9cm. Firecrests are marginally bigger with an average length of 10cm.
Goldcrests eyes have white rings surrounding them and their backs are a mixture of a dulled down olive and grey with buff undersides. The tips of their wings are unmistakably white. They are more widespread out of the two species, and you're much more likely to see them in gardens and other habitats.
Firecrests have a black stripe that goes across their eyes and the wingtips are paler than the goldcrest, but their plumage is a lot more vibrant. The bold olive colouring is comparable to when someone turns up the saturation on something. Firecrests have more of an intimidating look about them because of the striking black strap across the eye.
Close up of a Goldcrest
Close up of a Firecrest
They both tend to share much of the same habitats, primarily in coniferous woodland. They both have tiny beaks that allow them to pick tiny insects from between the pine needles. When it gets colder during the winter, more commonly, goldcrests will venture into other habitats, including gardens, in search of food - you can often find them dangling from branches. Firecrests will also do the same but it's much rarer to see one in your garden.
As they are both small birds with (a weight of around 5g), they aren't as vulnerable to predation as other species of birds. This is because their tiny builds allow them to feed in places that can support the lightest of animals. They are also speedy, agile and easy to overlook because of their size, which also helps them escape predators.
Both birds calls and songs are similar with a collection of short high-pitched notes.