Goldcrests are closely associated with coniferous woodlands (but occur also in gardens, parks and broadleaved woodland) and breed from the European Atlantic coast right across Eurasia to eastern China and Japan, being absent only from the far north of Fenno-Scandia and Russia. In Britain they are found throughout except in a few treeless areas in the Scottish Highlands and Islands and in the Fens in England.

            Goldcrests, being so small, are particularly vulnerable to cold weather. In Wiltshire the species was almost exterminated by the harsh winter of 1962-63, but by the time of the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas it was back to breeding in 29 of the county’s 33 core 10-km squares and by the turn of the century, following a run of mild winters, it was recorded breeding in all but two squares.

            Birds of Wiltshire recorded Goldcrests present in 568 tetrads, with probable or confirmed breeding in 323; WTA2 recorded them in 522 tetrads with breeding in only 207.

The reason for the decline is not clear but was most likely to have resulted from variation in the degree of severity of the preceding winter.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:

“1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976: The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser

“1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986: The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser

1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser

Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.

“Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland

WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.

"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.