Friday, July 1, 2011

White-eyed Vireo; May Migration to Northern Illinois

A White-eyed Vireo singing away on the tree tops,
Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/30/2011
As I was hiking from the Espenscheid Forest Preserve to Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve (the two preserves are connected by a trail that runs along the Kishwaukee River and passes under a bridge on Perryville Road), I heard an unfamiliar bird singing from the canopy.  It was pretty well hidden from my vantage point for quite some time, but patience won out, as it finally appeared for me to locate it in my viewfinder. Zooming in on it, I knew it was some sort of vireo, but I wasn't sure, and I didn't know its song. It was a song that wasn't on my recorded bird songs file. After taking a couple dozen photos and realizing that it wasn't going to move down closer to me, I moved on to my next conquest.  A couple of hours later, while on my return trip down that same section of trail, the same vireo was still singing away from high up in the tree tops, but it still wouldn't ingratiate me by posing on a more open branch in a closer proximity. I again moved on. Later in the day, I browsed through my images for the day, when I came across the 20-30 shots I took of this vireo. Most of them were “recycle bin worthy,” but 2 or 3 were worth keeping. After zooming in these pictures, I narrowed down my choices to the White-eyed or the Bell’s Vireo, but quickly realized that the vireo in question definitely had more evident wing bars that the Bell’s Vireo does not possess. So I logged onto to listen to the White-eyed Vireo’s song, and sure enough, that’s just what it was (Above).
The same White-eyed Vireo, Espenscheid Forest Preserve,
Rockford, IL; 5/30/2011

Northern Illinois is on the White-eyed Vireo’s very northern edge of its summer boundary, so I feel fortunate to have located one. Their summer territory is mainly the southeast quadrant of the U.S. extending across from Northern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, south along the Atlantic seaboard and to the Gulf of Mexico. In winter they will stay along the Gulf coast and into Mexico and Central America.

Many vireos and flycatchers look alike with gray / olive backs and heads and white or yellow undersides, but this Vireo’s identifying traits (other than its song) is that it looks like it’s wearing yellow “spectacles” and has a white iris (thus its name), and is the only vireo with these two traits together (Above).

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