Photo: G. Lasley/Vireo

Verdin

Auriparus flaviceps

Tiny but tough, Verdins are adaptable little birds of hot desert regions. They are usually seen singly or in pairs, flitting about actively in the brush, sometimes giving sharp callnotes. The birds may build several nests per year, including new ones to sleep in on winter nights. These conspicuous, bulky stick nests may last for several seasons in the dry desert air, and often seem more numerous than the Verdins themselves.
Conservation status Despite their ability to adapt to urban areas, surveys suggest that Verdin populations have declined during recent decades.
Family Verdins
Habitat Brushy desert valleys, mesquites. Most common in Sonoran desert and mesquite woods at lower elevations. Also lives in other kinds of low open brush, including desert stands of acacia and paloverde, thickets of saltcedar, low riverside woods. Common in suburbs of some southwestern towns.
Tiny but tough, Verdins are adaptable little birds of hot desert regions. They are usually seen singly or in pairs, flitting about actively in the brush, sometimes giving sharp callnotes. The birds may build several nests per year, including new ones to sleep in on winter nights. These conspicuous, bulky stick nests may last for several seasons in the dry desert air, and often seem more numerous than the Verdins themselves.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • immature (1st fall)
  • adult female
  • immature (1st winter)
Feeding Behavior

Forages actively in shrubs and low trees, mostly among smaller branches. Takes most of its food from leaf surfaces, sometimes hanging upside down to reach undersides of leaves. Often visits flowers for nectar, and will come to hummingbird feeders for sugar-water. Sometimes catches insects in the air, on the ground, or on the bark of branches.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-6. Pale green to blue-green, with reddish brown dots often concentrated around larger end. Incubation is by female, reportedly about 10 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 21 days after hatching, but continue to return to nest to sleep at night.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 21 days after hatching, but continue to return to nest to sleep at night.

Diet

Mostly insects. Feeds on many kinds of tiny insects, including aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, leafhoppers, beetle and wasp larvae, and many others. Small spiders are also important in diet. Eats berries, small fruits, and sometimes seeds; regularly takes nectar.


Nesting

Male may build several nests, with female choosing one to use for raising the young. Nest: Placed well out on branches of thorny shrub or low tree, or in cholla cactus, usually 4-12' above the ground. Nest is a conspicuous hollow oval or sphere, surprisingly large for size of bird, made of thorny twigs. Entrance is low on one side; interior is well lined with feathers, grass, leaves, spiderwebs, for good insulation. Nests built late in spring tend to have entrance facing toward prevailing wind, may help cool the interior.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident.

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Migration

Permanent resident.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A sharp seep! or tsilip! frequently repeated. Its infrequent song is a 3-note kleep-er-zee! with the final note highest in pitch.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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