White-eyed Vireo

Late in the morning, I slowed down as I walked past a large, wooded stretch of land with thick undergrowth – a vacant lot that backs up to a water treatment plant on a creek, a spot that’s a wonderful refuge for birds. I think of it as Tulip Poplar Hill, because a towering tulip poplar is one of the most prominent of many trees there. Several Eastern Towhees were singing, and a Pine Warbler, and others. And among them, I heard a few sharp, complex notes that especially got my attention – chick-perchicoree-chick! The song of a White-eyed Vireo. The sharp chick calls at the beginning and end of the song are distinctive. 

At first it was almost lost among all the other bird songs, and the bird itself was hidden in very tangled and dense vegetation. But after a few minutes, the song moved closer to the edge of the trees and tall weeds where I stood. Because White-eyed Vireos like densely vegetated places like this, one can be kind of hard to spot. I wasn’t sure I could find it. But luck was with me today. I saw a rustle of movement in the leaves of a small tree, and finally I saw it – moving slowly, stopping often to raise its head and sing.

A White-eyed Vireo is a striking bird with a gray head and a yellow pattern around the eyes that looks like spectacles. It has a greenish back, dark wings, white wing bars, a white throat, and pale yellow on the sides. The iris of the eye is white – but that’s often difficult to see. 

I never could see the full bird all at one time – but could see parts of it very clearly. Its quivered all over each time it sang. Through the leaves, I saw the white throat and belly, and pale yellow on the sides, and caught glimpses of the head and face, but couldn’t see the yellow spectacles well. Still – it was more than I’d hoped for – and seen like this through a pattern of leaves it looked especially alluring as it sang. 

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