Baloncillo, Párido del Desierto
(Auriparus flaviceps)

Verdin, Auriparus flaviceps: The Verdin is a tiny, active songbird of the arid desert scrub of southwestern United States and northern Mexico and the only North American member of the Penduline-tit Family.

They are a non-migratory species that are common residents of Baja California and the eastern and western portions of northern mainland Mexico.

They are very vocal and often conspicuous despite their size, building large enclosed nests in thorny scrub.

Both sexes are similar in appearance, with very small bodies and a medium length tail; they range in size from 3.5 to 4.5 inches, have wing spans of 7 inches and weigh between 5 and 8 grams.

The adults are dull gray overall, with darker greyish-white underparts, with a yellow head and throat and a red-chestnut shoulder patch. They have short heavy sharply pointed black bills, black legs and black feet. Juveniles are similar to the adults but paler gray and lacking the yellow face and chestnut shoulder marking. Due to the yellow face and chestnut markings they cannot be easily confused with any other bird species.

Verdins are active foragers, consuming insects, spiders, wild berries and fruit. They build two types of large spherical nests, placed in shrubs, that are up to 8 inches in diameter; the smaller nests are used for year-round roosting and the large nests for family rearing. Both types of nests have thick walls to protect them from hot daytime temperatures and low overnight temperatures. Nests can be found up to 10 miles from a water source as the Verdin can obtain needed moisture from their food sources. The females lay two broods per year with an average of 3 to 6 light green eggs with irregular dark reddish spots at the larger end that are incubated by the female for 10 days. The chicks are born helpless, are fed by both parents and leave the nests within 21 days of hatching.

The Verdin is found as solitary individuals or in pairs maintaining small family groups after breeding. Their call is a clear "tschep" and rapid chip notes; their song is a plain three-note whistle, "tee tyew too," with the second note being higher. They are considered to be of “Least Concern,” with stable but poorly studied populations with declines noted in southern California due to land development and related loss of habitat.

Verdin picture

Verdin picture

Verdin, Auriparus flaviceps: A year-round resident of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photos, courtesy of Carol Snow, taken March 2011. Description courtesy of John Snow.