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.
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.....