Today we were watching birds coming into our birdbath when a flash of yellow caught our eyes. Our first thought was a warbler, but of course first impressions are not always right. Once we got our binoculars on the little sprite we could see a gray body with a bright yellow face. This bird had an all gray juvenile following it through the leaves. If you look close at the bill on the young bird you will see the beak is a pinkish yellow. It was gleaning insects off leaves. Now remember, that we are in southeastern Arizona. Have you identified this bird?
The male Verdin will start a nest by constructing an outer shell made of sticks. The female will then line the nest. The nest is enclosed and is usually in thorny scrub. We have looked for Verdin nests on our property before, but only find them after the leaves have fallen. You should always approach a Verdin nest cautiously as these birds also make roosting nests to help them stay warm during the winter. One study I read said that the winter roosting nest has a thicker lining. It is believed that this may reduce the energy requirements to stay warm by up to 50 percent. One way to tell if the nest is for raising young or for a winter roost is if the nest opens toward the prevailing winds during the summer. These birds use the wind to cool the nest. Would this be a nest with air conditioning? How many guessed a Verdin? In North America, this little bird in the only member of the penduline-tit family (Remisidae). Often you will hear these birds before you see them as their call is a high piercing “tseewf” or a lower pitched whistle that sounds like “tee too too” or “tee too tee tee.” The volume of this tiny bird is surprisingly loud.
So, next time you hear a noisy little bird here in southeastern Arizona look for a yellow face. See if you can track it back to the nest. If you figure out how, would you let me know, please?This time of year you can find Verdins resting in the interior of a shrub. If you watch carefully, you may see the bird panting and spreading its wings to keep cool in the hot afternoons. Providing water may attract Verdins to your yard. The Verdins in our yard like to visit our birdbath with the mister and dripper combination.