Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our new pets, a pair of Verdin birds.

I haven't a clue what type of birds we have building their nest in our front courtyard but I'm thrilled to have some new photo subjects. (A while after I wrote this blog I looked online and found out what type of bird it is.)

I noticed birds flying around in our courtyard and then spotted the nest they are building 2 to 3 days ago. They're fast home builders.

Their nest is so much larger than the hummingbird nest built last year. Ray asked me if I thought we should tear down this new nest because of the mess the birds will create. Without hesitation I said, "NO".

I'll deal with the mess I know they'll make. This morning I set up my camera in front of the front door (with the front door open). Later, I realized a better shooting angle from just inside the garage.

Shot from inside the front door.

The next four photos are all shot from inside the garage door.

I used my Canon D40 with a 70-300mm lens at 300mm. Morning shooting will be better as the light is low in the front courtyard after noon. I usually shoot with Aperture Priority. The last four photos were shot at a larger aperture than I wanted to shoot at in order to get a shutter speed of 125 to stop the motion of the bird.


I just found this on the internet!
Auriparus flaviceps Order PASSERIFORMES - Family REMIZIDAE
Summary Detailed

A tiny, active songbird of the arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico, the Verdin is the only North American member of the penduline-tit family (Remizidae). Vocal and often conspicuous despite its size, it builds a large enclosed nest in thorny scrub.
Cool Facts

* The Verdin builds nests for both breeding and roosting; roosting nests are much smaller. The outer stick shell is constructed mostly by the male, while the female does most of the lining.

* The Verdin's roosting nests help it stay warm in winter. Winter roosting nests have thicker insulation, and may reduce energy requirements for thermoregulation by as much as 50 percent.

* The Verdin builds roosting nests all year round. One pair of Verdins in Arizona was observed building 11 nests in one year.

* During the heat of the desert summer, the Verdin rests quietly in the shaded interior of a shrub, sometimes panting or spreading its wings. Nests built in summer open toward prevailing winds, perhaps to aid in cooling.


* Size: 9-11 cm (4-4 in)
* Weight: 5-8 g (0.18-0.28 ounces)

* Small songbird.
* Gray body.
* Yellow face.

* Short tail.
* Sharp bill.
* Dark lores.
* Dark red shoulder patches not often visible.
* Eyes black.
* Legs dark.

Sex Differences

Sexes similar; male with brighter yellow on face.

Plain gray, including face. Base of bill pinkish yellow.
Similar Species

* Lucy's Warbler similar to juvenile Verdin, but bill is thinner and dark, without pinkish yellow base.
* Bushtit has smaller, blunter bill and longer tail.
* Gnatcatchers have longer tails with black-and-white markings.


Various calls, including loud chips issued in rapid succession. Song is a three-note whistle.


Desert scrub, especially along washes where thorny vegetation is present.

Insects and spiders.

Moves actively and nimbly among limbs of scrub vegetation, in a manner resembling that of chickadees. Often holds blossoms with feet while looking and picking at prey with bill.
Nest Type

Large sphere with a hole usually located near the bottom. Outer shell of sticks, lined with leaves and smaller twigs. Placed in shrub.
Egg Description

Light greenish, with irregular dark reddish spots, especially at larger end.
Clutch Size
Usually 4 eggs. Range: 3-6.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and naked.

Conservation Status
Declining across much of range. Land development in southern California has reduced Verdin habitat, and has resulted in the possible extirpation of the species from San Diego County, CA.
Other Names

Auripare verdin (French)
Baloncillo, Párido del desierto (Spanish)


Susan Lowery said...

Hi Linda,

I love these photos.

We have all of our nesters back again as well, and they are
so wonderful. I love it.

Have fun watching these
little ones.



Katya said...

I love these photos - and I love birds! How lucky you are. I agree - let them make a mess!