Hail To The King (Or Queen)!
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Cactus Wrens are not the only species of bird that are attracted by the fruit bearing cactus in our back yard. Verdins also love to eat cactus fruits. They are visiting our yard regularly these days.
Verdins are among my favorite southwestern birds. These tiny birds — about 1/2 the size of a sparrow — are utterly charming. They are pretty and they are fun to watch as they flit around the yard, seemingly foraging constantly.
In the past week or so one Verdin has practically taken up residence on our Peruvian Cereus cactus, feasting on the fruit. I’ve spent some time watching this little bird.
The yellow head and red “epaulets” on the bird’s shoulders are distinctive identifying marks for Verdins. No other species looks like this. Male and female Verdins sport identical plumage so there’s no way of telling whether this bird is a male or a female.
But, whatever this bird is, it is extremely aggressive — towards other Verdins. It will not permit another Verdin to so much as land on “its” cactus, and it spends nearly as much time driving off rival Verdins as it does feeding. It has declared itself to be king or queen, and that cactus is its empire.
Interestingly however, it knows how to be discreet. When other, larger species come to feed, the Verdin meekly backs off. The other day I observed a Cactus Wren and a Gila Woodpecker come to feed on the cactus fruit. The Verdin did/said nothing.
But, woe unto any other Verdin that attempts to occupy his/her cactus!
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 500, f8, shutter speeds varied.