Sunday, February 24, 2013

A True Spectacle

Plumbeous Vireo
Vireo.  A simple and yet complicated bird.  One that masks itself within other small birds like gnatcatchers, warblers, and kinglets.  It makes the game of birding a tricky one.  But the one thing that gives these birds away are the "spectacles" that they wear around their eyes.
And yet, they aren't the easiest to spot.  Lately my eyes catch slower and random movements.....and within those observations, I discover my vireos. They usually tend to be doing their own thing.  And that's when I find myself understanding the word "observation" better.  The more we observe behaviors; the better we become at counting birds. And I find myself beginning to look for those different movements.
Cassin's Vireo
Many times, it's just one hop, skip or flutter to the branch that makes me say, "Wait a minute, that movement is distinct from________________(fill in the blank with gnatcatcher, a warbler, flycatcher, etc)"
And I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to tell the difference between a Plumbeous or Cassin's Vireo.  The Hutton's Vireo can cause beginners to scratch their heads as they try and figure out if the Hutton's is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet or Hammond's Flycatcher. Of course, this is simple stuff to the expert eye but not for beginners who don't know what to look for!  And if you're looking at the appearances, it can be as confusing as a Sparrow.  However those days are over:)  I'm getting cocky now but when I'm in Guatemala this summer, I'll be starting all over again as a newbie:) Oh I can see the ID headaches already.....:) And I won't even talk about sparrows:) Child's play to some while for others(like me), hours sitting behind a book and screen looking for those"field marks!"
However, after many observation hours, these 3 become very distinct. Sound. Movement.  And of course the body/head shapes.  The Hutton's was my first greatest confusion from the vireo family.  But then I met my Plumbeous last year.  Was it really gray?  Or was it a Cassin's green?  After seeing both, I can now say, these two aren't difficult at all.
They are sweet acting little birds that for me are often found jumping quietly on a branch. A Kinglet will rattle away.  A Warbler "CHIP!".  But a Vireo?  Perhaps a quiet tweet.  But their gentle and slower movements cause me to pause and evaluate.
In Tucson, we have 3 vireos on our lists. Of course, there are many more vireos out there, but these are the 3 to look for here in the Old Pueblo.  If you put your spectacles on, you might actually be looking at a vireo:)  I wear my glasses at night.  Maybe that's why it's taken me so long to find them all:) Well not all....there are more many more of these birds in other parts not found here.  Until next time.....
Hutton's Vireo


  1. they're very cute. that hutton's at the end looks like a little mouse. :)

  2. Nice post on the vireos! But we have 3 more to be found in AZ, the Warbling Vireo, Bell's Vireo, and the Gray Vireo. All of them have that distinctly vireo beak. Bell's is easy to ID by their song when they return in the spring, but they can be a bit elusive and not show themselves very well. Warbling is fairly easy to see and ID in migration and on their breeding grounds in AZ. Gray Vireos are bit more selective in habitat, but can be found year round in the right places in AZ. You got some great photos there on the Cassin's, Plumbeous, and Huttons!

    1. I hope to find these little gems. Bell's and Warbling I'm not so worried about ID'ing.....but the Gray! I hope they make a stop in Tucson. If not, I'll be looking for them around the state:)

  3. oh that little hutton ....what a cutie

  4. Nice write up and great photos Chris. Plumbeous and Cassin's Vireo are exceptionally pretty birds too, ones we see unfortunately infrequently here in the valley.

  5. Those birds are so sweet, makes me long even more for spring.

  6. The Hutton's Vireo seems so fluffy and delicate!

  7. What cute little birds Chris and a great post with lovely photos :)

  8. Great post on the Vireo, Chris! Your photos are awesome too. Love the spectacles! Happy Birding!

  9. They are very sweet! I like the eye liner.

  10. I love seeing all of your birds --but how in the world do you learn them ALL.. I have a hard enough time learning the FEW we have here... ha ha

    Out of those vireos --my favorite is the Cassin's... BUT--they are all pretty little birds.

  11. Dla mnie byłyby one nie do odróżnienia, to zresztą nieważne bo wszystkie sa piekne. Pozdrawiam.
    For me, they would be indistinguishable, then never mind because all are beautiful. Yours.

  12. Love the portrait of the little Hutton's. Fuzzy little thing with pretty blue sky in the background.

  13. I love the last picture of the fluffy little bird basking in the sun. The blue sky set it off nicely.

  14. Cute post Chris. full of wisdom and enthusiasm!


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