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The Verdin’s Winter Roosts

Surviving in winter can be challenging
© WIlliam Herron View Large

For small songbirds, surviving a cold winter night can be challenging. Their bodies lose heat faster than those of larger birds. So little birds have found resourceful ways to stay warm — like huddling close together with other birds. But the Verdin, a tiny bird of the Southwest, does something few other birds do to keep warm: it builds extra nests to roost in, in the winter.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

The Verdin’s Winter Roosts

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote.
[sounds signifying cold weather]
For small songbirds, surviving a cold winter night can be challenging. Their bodies lose heat faster than those of larger birds. So little birds have found resourceful ways to stay warm — like huddling close together with others. Some snuggle into old bird nests; others shelter in a dense mass of leaves.
[Verdin song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/56810751#_ga=2.265500234.491525157.156..., 0.07-.09] 

But the Verdin, a tiny bird of the Southwest, does something few other birds do to keep warm: it builds special nests to roost in, in the winter. Desert nights are often cold, so warm roosts are crucial.
The birds build roosting nests all year long, as well as breeding nests in the spring. But the nests they build in the winter are smaller and warmly lined with feathers and dry grass. Verdins are prolific nest-builders, so they may have several nests at the ready.
[Verdin alarm call, https://www.xeno-canto.org/493965, 0.01-.03]
This generous supply of snug bungalows can help other birds, too. In Arizona, one Verdin nest hosted fifteen Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, all crammed in for five cold nights in a row.
For a Verdin, having gnatcatchers crash in one of its nests isn’t a big problem. It can just snuggle into one of its spares.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
                                                             ###
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Verdin song recorded by Pat Goltz, Pima, AZ. Verdin alarm call provided by Xeno-Canto.org, recorded by Steve Hampton.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote   January 2020

ID#  VERD-01-2020-01-23    VERD-01  Narrator: Mary McCann

Source: Bernd Heinrich. Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival. Harper-Collins, 2003, p. 70-71.

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