Thankful for the Song of a Blue-headed Vireo

Mid-morning on a sunny, cool and colorful Thanksgiving Day, I stood on the edge of a small patch of woods, watching two Golden-crowned Kinglets flit through leaves of orange and brown, along with several other small birds. After a few minutes, I realized that among the familiar calls of birds nearby, I was hearing the song of a vireo. A Blue-headed Vireo. It’s not a song I would expect to hear at this time of year – and it’s funny how much expectations can affect what one does hear or see.

When it finally did register, I pretty quickly found the small bird, very high in the branches of oaks, with the sun almost directly behind it, so it was difficult to see well. But it sang several times over the course of many minutes, and I caught at least a brief glimpse or two of the bold white spectacles on its blue-gray face.

A Blue-headed Vireo’s song is made up of clear phrases, separated by pauses, similar to the songs of Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, but more musical and sweeter. It’s also distinguished by a slightly slower pace and a gently-slurred quality to the notes.

It was a special pleasure to hear this unexpected and lovely song on a peaceful Thanksgiving Day.

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