Up With the Birds

The sun has barely popped above the far-off hills and a pair of verdins are back, tap-tap-tapping against the windows of the RV. This has been going on for several days, from first light until late afternoon.

The attraction? Their reflection in the windows. I imagine they may be defending their territory, seeking to drive off possible usurpers. Yesterday I played an audio file of their song next to an open window. Well! That got them excited.

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Verdins are tiny songbirds, about the size of a chickadee and even more hyperactive, never perching for more than a moment or two. (The only way I got their photos was through the window as they paused on a palo verde tree between “attacks”.)

Verdins are the most common year-round resident of the Sonoran Desert. They eat insects and spiders, from which they draw most of the water they need. At other times small seeds and fruits suffice. In urban areas they’re common at hummingbird feeders.

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As for nests, they build two kinds, messy looking affairs of twigs and spider webs. One is for nesting and another (usually several) for roosting. One astute observer said summer roost nests often face the direction of the prevailing winds, presumably to provide some “air conditioning” at times when daytime temperatures may reach 45C ( 113F) or more.

Verdins are alone in terms of North American relatives — their closest kin live in Europe and Asia, the penduline tit family.


Verdin   Auriparus flaviceps
Palo verde   Parkinsonia aculeata

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