Never Say Never

You might not think that a package weighing less than 8 grams could cause much trouble. You’d be wrong.

I, on the other hand, would be right, having had the benefit of being wrong several times on this exact point many years ago. I speak, of course, of the verdin, as does Wikipedia, here.

The verdin is a very small bird.
At 4.5 in (11 cm) in length,
it rivals the American bushtit
as one of the smallest passerines in North America.

Just for some perspective on what 11 cm, you know, looks like, here’s a helpful illustration from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Note, too, that 11 cm is the top of its range.

Screenshot from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

But from a causing-problems-for-photography perspective, their smallness is only half the problem.

Tiny but tough, Verdins are adaptable little birds of hot desert regions.
They are usually seen singly or in pairs,
flitting about actively in the brush (emphasis added),
sometimes giving sharp callnotes.
National Audubon Society

Yeah, that about sums it up: Verdins do, indeed, flit about actively in the brush. It might be more accurate to say that they never bloody stop.

And so I swore off verdins as photographic subjects — and, indeed, on all small flitty birds — resigning myself to chasing only larger or calmer (or both) birds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then this March I chanced on one verdin (Or two? Who knows?) lining what I assume was his/her/their nest, with said nest handily situated at my shoulder level, right beside a path through the Gilbert Water Ranch. As he/she/they came and went and came and went and came and went, staging through the adjacent brush, I was pleased to get two shots: the one on the left being an example of what my best shot used to look like, and the one on the right being, well, a better one. Hurray!

2-photo collage of verdinsBut as he/she/they continued to come and go and come and go and come and go, in full sunlight, I got better yet.

2-photo collage of verdins with cottonwood fluff for nest I also learned why we talk about “feathering your nest.”

3-photo collage of verdins lining nestI don’t suppose I made any impression on the/these verdin(s), but he/she/they made one on me. I can’t control the chances I get — not which or when — but I can count on there continuing to be chances.


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6 Responses to Never Say Never

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Reminds me of an old song: “I’ll never say never again, again…come on. Here we go again!”

  2. Jim Robertson says:

    nice captures Isabel. Flity birds are interesting to see, but as you say, not photograph (usually)

  3. Isabel, you also captured their typical “washes with thorny vegetation” and “enclosed nest.” These photos deserve a wider audience. I wonder if they build their elaborate nests every year, or just spruce them up again with more feathers. Now that I’ve seen one, I want a nest lined with feathers, but proportional to my size!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Glad you enjoyed them. I believe they make new nests every year, along with a few decoys.

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