Friday, March 8, 2013

A Tiny Verdin


While I'm away in Chicago, here's a post from a recent trip to N. Scottsdale, Ariz:

This tiny little Verdin typically darts quickly amidst the desert sage plants and mesquite trees it is fond of. Its movements remind me of gnatcatchers. They're incredibly quick, continually darting around in shrubs, and their small size (only a little over 4"!) can make them somewhat difficult to photograph.

Found throughout the southwestern U.S. states and Mexico, the Verdin is the only North American member of the penduline-tit family (Remizidae), which are found throughout Eurasia and Africa. Most members of the family build incredibly complex hanging nests from spiderwebs, but the Verdin does not. It chooses instead to harvest thorny branches, readily available in its arid habitat, and builds a domed nest in a shrub.

And, it doesn't just build nests for breeding. It's one of the few birds that builds a roosting nest. Temperature ranges in the desert are extreme and the small roosting nests are well insulated to help the birds stay warm during the winter months.

The Verdin's beak is thinner than a typical tit's, and is used to pry bugs out of thin crevices in trees and flowers. Typical of other tits, the Verdin has a tendency to hunt upside down along tree limbs. Verdins also consume nectar. It'll visit hummingbird feeders and loves fresh-cut oranges. During the spring desert bloom, Verdins are often spotted sipping nectar from cactus flowers (I'd love to see that!).

The distinguishing russet shoulder patch isn't visible in this photo, but a good photo showing this can be found in a wonderful Sonoran birds post by Jeff Cooper.

14 comments:

  1. Great light and post on that branch!

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    1. Thanks, Maria. Pure luck on this one - they move so dang quickly. :-)

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  2. I just love these pretty birds. Great photos!

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    1. They are really pretty. Especially when their red epaulets are showing... Some day... :-)

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  4. What an interesting bird, of which I'd never heard ..Great pic! Happy belared B'day!

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    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! Always nice to hear from you...

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  5. Lovely shot sof a sweet little bird!

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    1. Thanks, Dawn. They are cute little birds, aren't they?

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  6. You are very modest about the quality of your photos. To me they look very good....and I've been doing amateur digital for about 10 years now.

    Do you have you main photo gear described somewhere on your blog? Some readers might find that helpful if they are "in the market".
    ...and I'm just plain curious and want to compare.

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    1. Thanks so much :-) I guess I never thought to include my camera info on the blog page... it's a good suggestion, I always ask people what they use. Helps give me ideas about what I might want to try next, etc.

      This was taken w/my current camera and longer lens: Nikon D3100 and the Sigma DG 150-500mm. I LOVE the lens. I like the camera too but I've outgrown it a bit and want to upgrade to another Nikon - hopefully sometime after the 1st of the year.

      Do you have a blog? I'm not on Google+ but would love to follow your blog...

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