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Friday, July 22, 2011

#10: White-eyed Vireo - Mason Farm, NC

Wow, double digits already! Tons more to come!

There’s just something about vireos. Around here you can find a species in any season of the year, singing from the very tops of trees. Mostly in the summer you hear Red-eyed Vireos whistling their incessant fluted songs, and deceptively loudly at that. Even if a singing Red-eyed sounds like it’s right next to you, you’ll eventually spy it hopping around thirty feet above your head. But there’s one species of vireo that breaks all the rules.

I’m talking, of course, about the White-eyed Vireo. Sure, it’s loud and raucous just like any other vireo, but if it sounds like it’s coming from right next to you, usually it really is. The only problem is there’s often at least three feet of vegetation between it and you, as White-eyeds, unlike other vireos, prefer low shrubs, bushes, and willows to the tall trees of its cousins. However, that doesn’t stop them from being extraordinarily hard to get a good look at.

White-eyed Vireo - Mason Farm, NC; 05/22/2010

Luckily, there’s a little tool in the birder’s arsenal called playback. Depends on what side of the argument you’re on (neither the time nor place for that at the moment, but perhaps I’ll get into it in the future). Now, usually playback just does not work on vireos, Red-eyed, White-eyed, or otherwise. But just this one time, the little guy popped up for a half second before retreating into his leafy fortress, and James managed to snap two pictures. Thankfully, one of them came out, and still it remains out best picture of a White-eyed Vireo.

I feel like this is the time to mention, as a post-script, that I really enjoy White-eyed Vireos. Positively gaudy among the vireos, with splashes of gray and yellow, those insane white eyes, and a crazy song that is only matched by a couple of species in the entire bird world. Just, I really like ‘em, that's all.

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