The Verdin, Auriparus flaviceps is a small often over looked little resident of the dry desert scrub brush. For myself, this rather common bird gets the proverbial “No Respect” and very little acclaim. Many times in the past, I will be out in the desert, on a shoot, specifically looking for a bird or two, when along comes this dainty little yellow headed bird. While they seem to be in constant motion, it will almost always make a brief stop on top of a dead stick, or branch, take a look around and then dive expertly back into cover. “Ah, it’s just a Verdin” and my attention goes somewhere else. Invariably, I will fire off a couple of frames, rarely even putting them in my field notes. Of course, when I get back to the gallery, and I am looking at the shots from the day, I am always impressed with the poise, color and beauty of the bird.

Verdin story (4)

Living on insects, a little nectar and some fruit, the Verdin is almost always seen pecking around in the medium height scrub.

One of the smallest of the passerines, the Verdin measures in at 4.5 inches. They are part of the Penduline family, and resemble the true tits in most ways, but have sharp pointed bills.

Here on the Baja, they prefer to nest in the Choya Cactus, where the nest is usually built in a some what inverted form. The entry to the nest is on the low side, or at the bottom, where they fly up into the covered nest. The dense prickly cactus aids in protection of the nest, making it very difficult to see in, let alone try to enter. The nest is lined with grass, leaves and feathers, and will have up to four blue-green eggs with red spots. I have read where the Verdin will raise two brood per year, but I have seen no proof of that in my field work. The photo of the nest below is taken from lying on the ground, looking up.

Verdin Nest

Verdin story (2)


Whether they are my primary reason for being out there or not, the always seem to put a smile on my face.

Verdin story (1)

Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.