White-eyed Vireo – A Different Song

Late this morning, a White-eyed Vireo sat on a branch in a small tree in an overgrown area of weeds, grass and shrubs and sang a somewhat unusual song. Instead of its familiar chik-a-perioo-chik, this one was singing:

Chik! Meew-chicoree-chik-chik-rasp-Chik!

The mew was very distinct, a good imitation of a Gray Catbird, but it wasn’t random. It was incorporated into a pattern that the vireo repeated several times while I watched. Each time the chik at the beginning and end of the song were both emphatic, and the two chik-chiks in the middle quick and close together. The rasp was a short, ringing buzz.

This might have been what’s described as a White-eyed Vireo’s rambling song. But it didn’t really sound like a Gray Catbird, except for the mew, and it wasn’t a long or rambling song with several imitations, but just this repeated and quite distinct pattern.

It was fun to have a good close-up look at the vireo in the little tree – the yellow spectacles, black streak from eye to bill, the white throat and breast and very faint tinge of yellow on the flanks, and two white wing bars. Not quite close enough to see the white of its eyes. It stayed in view for several minutes, singing, before flying away.

Earlier in the morning, a different White-eyed Vireo sang in the oaks in our back yard (about a mile away from the other) – the first time we’ve had one so close this season – and it also was singing a similar song that began and ended with a chik! and included a catbird-like mew. Later in the afternoon the same vireo (I think), switched to singing its more familiar chik-a-perioo-chik.

Leave a Reply