Monday, February 27, 2006

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)

This morning as I was making breakfast I noticed a verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) flitting about in the mesquite behind the garden wall. Verdins are a species of penduline tit. They are small birds, about 90 – 100 mm. long, with an average wingspan of 16.25 cm. They occupy the southwest desert scrub areas of North America south to Tamaulipas, Mexico. They prefer thorny brush over open desert. They particularly enjoy mesquite trees.

I stood for a while and enjoyed the verdin's antics as it flitted from twig to twig to feed. Verdins are rarely seen drinking; most of their diet consists of insects, nectar, fruits and seedpods of legumes.

Some interesting facts about verdins: They build both breeding and roosting nests. Winter roosting nests, which have thicker insulation than summer nests, help the verdin stay warm in winter. They build roosting nests all year round. One pair of verdins in Arizona was observed building 11 nests in one year. Summer nests open toward the prevailing winds. In the heat of desert summer, verdins rest in the shaded interior of shrubs, sometimes panting or spreading their wings.

10 comments:

T. Beth said...

Wow, you were able to get lots of nice photos of one very active bird!

Verdins are regular visitors to my hummingbird feeders, although I'm not sure how they reach the sugar water, perhaps they have long tongues.

Pam in Tucson said...

Hi t.beth! This is the first verdin I've seen in ages. I understand they're loners until nesting time. This little one seemed to be having a wonderful time, feeding and chirping away.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Wow. What a fantastically cute bird with that yellow head. You were incredibly patient to get these photos. I love seeing all the birds that we will never see here in the northwest. The variety just knocks me out.

Pam in Tucson said...

RD - Verdins are lovely, aren't they? I have to confess that this wasn't a patient birdwatching session. I just pointed the camera and tried to follow the verdin as it flitted all over the tree. It never stayed in one spot for more than a few seconds. There were far more bad photos than good - but since the underlying tenor of this blog is to document my struggles learning photography, I was fairly pleased with the final results.

tai haku said...

we have a group of 4 penduline tits (the european species) on the new RSPB reserve in East London at the moment Pam - they are a very rare visitor to the UK and are probably the most watched little birds in the UK at the moment.

Pam in Tucson said...

tai - I went to a couple of UK web sites and looked up the penduline tits at RSPB. What a lovely little bird! Have you been out to see them?

Thanks so much for letting me know about this.

tai haku said...

I haven't tried to twitch these Pam - the reserve itself isn't open yet so is only being opened up on certain days. I don't have a scope so my chances of picking out these little beauties from over the fence are pretty minimal. The reserve is only a short train ride from me though and is turning up some interesting rare birds already - I'm looking forward to it opening properly.

thor said...

this little verdin guy is so adorable. you really caught his personality. do you know if they have them in the midwest?

love,
thor

thor said...

this little verdin guy is so adorable. you really caught his personality. do you know if they have them in the midwest?

love,
thor

Pam in Tucson said...

Hi Thor - According to the Field Guide to Birds of North America, verdins are resident in the deserts of southwestern North America, from southern California eastward to central Texas and southward to central Mexico. You'll have to come home to see one :) He is cute, isn't he? I put this one in the card catalogue and it seems to have been well received. love, Pam