Monday, November 30, 2015

New Yard Bird: Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Bird nerds rejoice at a variety of things. They might be dorky bird-counting milestones or they may be things that have larger consequences.

Yesterday I celebrated "yard bird" number 35. This milestone may qualify on both counts. I had not seen a ruby-crowned kinglet in my yard in the 6 1/2 years we have lived here, so it was fun to see it. Birders on their local "patches" keep track of such things. It's just a birder thing.

But where did I see it? It was on a blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) and a desert hackberry (Celtis pallida) that I planted about 1 1/2 years ago. This native tree and large shrub, respectively, have grown a bit since I planted them.

Apparently they have matured to the point where they provide places for native insects to live. Many of our native birds eat insects. I have seen verdins hopping around in these plants several times. Verdins eat insects almost exclusively. The time that verdins now spend foraging in these plants suggests they are finding something to eat.

Ruby-crowned kinglets, which spend the winter in our region, also eat insects. The one in my yard spent enough time in these plants to suggest that the native plants I planted were supplying it, too, with food.

The kinglet also spent enough time there for me to get some photos. Enjoy.

Ruby-crowned kinglet. Note gray-green color overall with yellow highlights on the wings, white wingbar, a dark bar behind the white wingbar, and, just slightly visible, a little white just in front and behind the eye. This bird is only about 4 1/4 inches long. The plant is a desert hackberry.

This photo of the kinglet is blurry but it shows the white in front and behind the eye.

Here is a verdin for comparison. It is only slightly longer, at 4 1/2 inches on average. It too is in the desert hackberry. Verdins are common visitors to our yard. 

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