Photo of the Week - June 14, 2011

Warbling Vireo
Vireo gilvus
Black River
Littlerock, WA
June 14, 2011

According to the Cornell Lab of ornithology, the Warbling Vireo is, "A drab bird of riparian woodlands, the Warbling Vireo is more easily heard than seen. It has no distinctive field marks, but its rapid warbling song with a accented, high-pitched last note is relatively easy to recognize."
Birders at all levels are familiar with two of the most common birds you are likely to see out in the woods-the LBJ and the LBB-which translate to " little brown jobbie" and "little brown bird". These are the generic terms one uses when there are no easily seen characteristics. After many years watching birds, I have become very adept at finding the LBB and LBJ. So, imagine my excitement when I saw what could most readily be termed a "little gray bird"  of about 5 inches who was flitting about in the willows and making almost no sound and I recognized it as something new and different. I felt like I had finally graduated from birding elementary school and passed my first middle school test. It is easy to recognize a bird as large and colorful as the tanager or as majestic as a bald eagle. It is another thing to identify a 5 inch bird whose only distinguishing feature is the white line above its eye.
The Warbling Vireo migrates as far as Central America and Mexico. In the Puget Sound region you are likely to find Warbling Vireos in riparian habitats with cottonwood and willow trees. They forage for their insect diet high in treetops. Warbling Vireo are commonly seen May through August.  
To learn more about Warbling Vireo's in Puget Sound region, go to Seattle Audubon's Birdweb site.