Lord Of The Manor
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Of all of the native birds that one finds in the immediate vicinity of Tucson, Verdins are about the cutest. These are tiny birds, about 1/2 the size of a sparrow. They are insectivores, primarily, although I’ve seen them feeding on cactus fruit. Typically, Verdins are territorial in the sense that they have a tendency to find favorite trees, usually Palo Verde or Mesquite trees, and hang out in them all day. A Verdin will spend its day energetically flitting from branch to branch of “its” tree, seeking out small insects as prey. They sing constantly as they hunt. In the spring these beautiful birds build extraordinarily complex nests, almost spherical, with the entrances invariably near the bottoms of the nests.
Yesterday, I photographed this one occupying a Palo Verde tree and surveilling its domain.
That bright yellow head is a principal identifying feature of a Verdin. There are several species of little grayish birds that tend to hang out in Mesquite and Palo Verde trees (Ruby Crowned Kinglet, e.g.), but that yellow head is a dead giveaway when trying to identify the species.
A second identifying feature of a Verdin is its red shoulder “epaulet.” That is visible in this second photo.
Verdins are remarkably common little birds in the Desert Southwest. Every Palo Verde tree in Tucson seems to have a pair of them hanging out there. For those of you who are not residents, this is a species to look for on your visits here. They are easy to find and eminently worth the effort of searching for them.
Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO + 1.4X Extender, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/800.