V is for Verdin! As songbirds go, these little guys are considered to be the ‘Plain Janes’ of backyard birding though the yellow head and chest with a patch of red at the bend of the wings offsets the drab gray of the rest of the body rather nicely, don’t you think?
While they resemble chickadees in size and hyperactive behavior, Vermins are not closely related to any other bird in the western hemisphere and are easily recognized by their loud, rapid whistle.
Verdins are quite common here in the Sonoran desert and manage to withstand our extreme temperatures; during the hottest part of summer or the coldest winter morning, they’ll be out singing! They tend to hang out in mesquite bosques (oasis-like clusters) in semi-arid areas near rivers or streams which provides an optimum setting for remarkable biodiversity at the bosque boundary and surrounding desert as shrubs and understory vegetation flourish there as well. But they’re not adverse to desert city life and can also be seen sipping at backyard hummingbird feeders. Besides the hummingbird, Verdins are the most ardent of all flower visitors.
Though Verdins don’t seem to mind people at all, you’ll often see their over-sized (and a bit unsightly) nests before you ever catch sight of a Verdin! On occasion, the male must build several nests (the record is eleven in one year!) before his female settles on one she likes. Once the female has made a decision she will then ‘finish’ the nest with lining. The nests are typically built on the outer branches of thorny shrubs with entrances facing incoming breezes; presumably to keep cool in summer.
I sure don’t mind sharing my yard with Verdins, would you?