When my great friends Franc and Carol Gorenc were preparing for their trip to Arizona, I spent a few hours with them to help them plot their destinations, and offer advice on where to find some of the signature birds of the southwestern desert.
I remember we talked about Verdin Auriparus flaviceps quite a bit. It is one of my favourite birds when I visit that area and one that I eagerly search for. It is the only member of the Penduline Tit family (Remizidae) found in North America and assumes a certain cachet by that fact alone.
It is also a singularly attractive little bird as you may judge from the pictures below, which Franc sent me a couple of days ago.
It is often found singly, sometimes in pairs and occasionally in flocks. In some of the literature I have examined it is categorized as conspicuous, but I am bound to say that I have never found this to be so. This passage from Chickadees, Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers (Simon Harrap and David Quinn) more closely aligns with my experience of this species: Shy and retiring during the breeding season until the eggs hatch and, although more approachable at other times, may be elusive in thick habitats and more often seen than heard. Franc has done well to capture bird in the open and the photograph is quite superb.
One could make the case for many species to be considered emblematic of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, but Verdin and Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus are high on the list for me.
Thanks to Franc for reminding me of this very special little bird.