Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birds that Live in Glass Houses

The Verdins Built It Where?

Verdins (Auriparus flaviceps) are tiny yellow-headed birds that flit around the desert eating bugs. They are almost always in motion, cheeping and flitting incessantly, bustling around in the branches and flowers. They are great for keeping aphids and whiteflies under control in my yard.

Verdin on Peruvian Cereus
They build big, messy nests that are disguised as a clump of dead twigs caught in a branch. The entrance is low on the side, or even under the nest.  They build nests that are rough shelters for adults and more elaborate nests lined with soft material for raising a brood.

This pair of verdins started out in a mesquite tree.  Even when we pruned off a broken branch next to the nest, they kept building.

Verdin nest in mesquite tree.

Unfortunately we had a serious wind storm a couple days after I took this photo. The branch with the nest broke off and was dangling. We checked the nest for eggs or hatchlings and found none, so we pruned off the branch and scattered the nesting materials out for them to reuse. If we had to destroy their house, we could at least help them rebuild.

Several days later one of the cats was chittering at the front window, intently watching a pair of verdins picking up tiny twigs. I watched them fly .... here.

Yup ... the solar light over the entry.
They were stuffing one of the solar entry lights full of twigs and fiber, beginning another nest.

We moved it into a shadier location under a nearby eave, fearing the afternoon sun would cook any eggs they laid. The verdins kept building until that afternoon, when they apparently realized the nest was too hot. They abandoned the glass house briefly and are building a nest in the ironwood in the back yard.

Work is continuing on the glass house as well as the other nest. Maybe they like the view.

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