Verdin On Creosote Bush
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I really like Verdins. These very attractive tiny chickadee-like birds go about their work so loudly and cheerfully that they are absolutely beguiling. They are a southwestern species, showing up in deserts from southern Texas to California and well down into Mexico. They are instantly recognizable by their bright yellow heads.
In our area Verdins seem to have a fondness for foraging on Creosote Bush, a plant that is extremely common in most parts of the Sonoran Desert. One of these birds will alight on a bush, then systematically scour it from top to bottom looking for small insects.
Photographing them is a challenge. Verdins are not especially shy around humans. On many occasions I’ve been able to walk to within five feet of a Verdin that is engrossed in its foraging. But, there are two problems that make photographing these birds difficult. First, they often are buried within a plant’s foliage and twigs as they do their foraging. I’ve had the experience more than once of hearing a Verdin calling (they are quite noisy) from a Creosote Bush, walking to the bush, and not being able to see the bird even though I knew it was just a few feet away.
Second, Verdins never stay still for more than a second or two. With these birds, movement is almost nonstop. So, when one pops into view, as is the case with the bird featured here, the photographer has, at most, a couple of seconds to train his or her lens on the bird and take a picture. I made dozens of attempts in order to get these images. Except for these two all of the others were hopelessly blurred because my autofocus didn’t have sufficient time to zero in on the bird.
In both images look at the base of the Verdin’s extended left wing. You’ll see a dark red spot. That’s a second identifying mark with these birds in addition to their yellow heads. All adult Verdins have red “epaulets” on their shoulders.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640.