Two Blue-headed Vireos

After heavy rain and thunderstorms all day yesterday and much of the night, this morning dawned clear and breezy and cool. The sky was still crowded with remnants of big, damp-looking rain clouds, but they were broken apart and blowing away. A March sky. Trees and grass were drenched, everything was wet and sparkling in early sunlight. The songs of Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula and Black-and-white Warbler, and the spee calls of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers added their own sparkle to the morning. These earliest-returning migrant songbirds have stayed around for the past few days, beginning to change the way our world sounds, like small, bright accents in a painting that alter it entirely. 

At the very end of a morning walk through the neighborhood, I was just about to head down our driveway to the house when I heard a new song – a series of high, sweet phrases, repeated in a lovely, unhurried way. It was a Blue-headed Vireo, another songbird back from winter a little further south – and one I don’t often find here. 

I walked across the road to the patch of close-growing oaks and pines, not really expecting to see it – but after just a couple of minutes, it did come into view, a small bird making its way slowly through the branches from tree to tree, pausing often to look around. Everything about a Blue-headed Vireo is cool, calm and serene – its colors, the way it moves, and even its song. Its head is a smooth, round blue-gray, with bold white markings around the eyes that look like spectacles. Its back is olive green, its dark wings marked with bright white wing bars, and its breast is white, with a gentle wash of yellow on the sides. 

As I watched it move through the trees, I realized that I was also hearing the song of a second Blue-headed Vireo not far away, and within a minute or two, the second one flew into the same tree with the first. They didn’t seem to be antagonistic – but they didn’t stay in view long after that, both flew further back into the trees and out of sight. I could still hear the sweet song for several minutes.

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