Thursday, January 10, 2019

Crops & Clips: Vireos

The White-eyed Vireo is a permanent resident in south Florida, although the winter population is supplemented by migrants from the  eastern half of the US. I have heard it singing all year long, though the frequency and volume of its song is reduced during the winter months.

Although often shy and retiring, it is one of my favorite photographic subjects. Like all birds, it is incapable of changing its facial expressions, but it can assume some very interesting postures which seem to be communicating its thoughts.

Is it looking for a bug up there or wondering what I am doing here?

White-eyed Vireo 02-20181109

Is it angry?

White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) cropped 20120112

Shy?

White-eyed Vireo 02-20171122

Proud?

White-eyed Vireo 5-20111024

Or simply exuberant?

White-eyed Vireo 20160121

Vireos are small and rather inconspicuous birds, mostly native to the New World, with most species concentrated in Central America and northern South America.  They eat insects and also fruit, especially during winter. About a dozen vireo species inhabit the US. Most are brown or greenish, and some show yellow tints. A vireo's bill is more stout than that of warblers and its upper mandible is slightly hooked.

A common visitor during migration is the Red-eyed Vireo:

Red-eyed Vireo 04-20181012

It is a common breeding bird in Canada and much of northern and eastern US. While it does nest down into Florida we do not find it breeding in the southern tip of the peninsula. Thus we wait for migration to hear them as they pass through and rarely stay for the winter. Most continue on to spend the winter in northern South America. They sing persistently up north, but we can hear their distinctive repetitive but varied 2-3 note slurred song during spring migration.

The Red-eyed Vireo is larger, about an inch longer (6 inches) than the White-eyed species. It can be very hard to find as it stalks among the leaves in search of insects:

Red-eyed Vireo 2-20140827

The light must be right to catch the red in its eyes:

Red-eyed Vireo 20130919

Red-eyed Vireo 2-20100922

The plumage of the Black-whiskered Vireo is similar to that of the Red-eyed Vireo, but it sports its namesake "whiskers." It inhabits coastal mangroves in south Florida, but I was lucky to see it once in our local wetlands, 18 miles inland:

Black-whiskered Vireo 3-20110420

Black-whiskered Vireo 20110420

Another winter visitor which has been numerous this week is the Blue-headed Vireo. Its white "spectacles" contrast strikingly with its dark blue head:

Blue-headed Vireo 04-20181225

Blue-headed Vireo 02-20181225

An unusual migrant visited us for four winters between 2009 and 2017. Bell's Vireo is about a half inch smaller than the White-eyed Vireo which often accompanied it. This species breeds to the west, in central and southwestern US. Normally, it migrates through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to its wintering grounds on the Pacific coast of Mexico.  Over the years a few vagrants have wintered in Florida. There were only 24 Florida records between 1947-1976, less than once a year! 

Bell's Vireo is rather plain, and easily overlooked:

Bell's Vireo 2-20151222

Bell's Vireo 3-20151031

On of my most recent "first seen" birds in our local wetlands was this colorful Yellow-throated Vireo:

Yellow-throated Vireo 02-20181123

The Warbling Vireo has been present several times, but my best photos of it were those I took in Illinois, such as this one:

Warbling Vireo 3-20100818

The Philadelphia Vireo is another unusual visitor to south Florida, but i did photograph it here on two occasions. Its voice is very similar to that of the Red-eyed Vireo. It usually migrates from its Canadian breeding grounds to Central America by way of the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is quite colorful:

Philadelphis Vireo 01-20151019

While I have seen other vireo species elsewhere, this covers all my Florida sightings. This week was not all about vireos. An Agapostemon Sweat Bee visited the flowers of Bidens alba:

Agapostemon Sweat Bee 20190104

Venus, the Moon and Jupiter were aligned as we walked out 45 minutes before sunrise on January 3. I even saw Mercury closer to the horizon, the first time in my life!

Venus Moon Jupiter aligned 20190102

Images of a very old Moon just before it disappeared into the sunrise on January 4th:

Very old moon 062711 AM 20190104

A Tricolored Heron danced with its reflection:

Tricolored Heron 01-20190101

Common Grackles congregated along a neighbor's fence:

Common Grackles 20181225


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia

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Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

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23 comments:

  1. What beautiful photos and I love the dancing heron. Have a good day Diane

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  2. The many moods of the Vireo. Wonderful captures, and I love the moon shot!

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  3. Wonderful images! I rarely get such sharp images of birds.

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  4. Beautiful little creatures, i had no idea there were so many different types of just vireos. Also, i've never seen a green bee, that's a new one for me.

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  5. Interesting you comment about the grasses on my blog Kenneth. Love the series of images of the first Vireo and the moon shot is superb as well as the gorgeous reflection shot of the heron. Have a a great weekend

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  6. Such a beautiful moon shot.
    Bell's Virio 'plain' - wash your mouth out, it looks a lovely little bird! I love the clarity of your photos.

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  7. Wonderfully clear reflection! Bravo!

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  8. The Vireos remind me of our Silvereyes - although I don't think they are closely related.

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  9. Very enjoyable post. That first shot is soooo cute! Love seeing the tri-colored heron under any circumstances, but to see him dancing with his reflection is the best!

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  10. Love your captures Kenneth. I enjoyed your vireo pics, especially since we don't have them in our area. Such good detail in your pics. The heron is stunning.

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  11. I have wondered if it was some species of the vireo that used to have nests in the orchard where I worked. I enjoyed seeing all of these. Great captrue of the Tri-colored heron.

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  12. I'm glad you are taking care of our vireos down in the south! I miss them!!!!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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  13. That's a beautiful moon shot

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  14. Excellent photos of the Vireos! They are able to communicate very well with their 'body language'

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  15. As always spectacular images (my favorite has to be the 2nd white-eyed vireo)!!

    And, my thanks goes out to you for sharing this all with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin this weekend.

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  16. Pretty images. You found some lovely sights to share! We had a gorgeous crescent moon here last week, and I'm sorry now that I didn't take a photo.
    Thanks for sharing yours at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/01/what-flirt.html

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  17. That must have made your day when you were able to catch the red in its eye!Interesting that the vireo only sings in winter... Many of the little critters, like bees and flies I never have seen in Holland! The "jade" bee is very pretty! Many thanks for your interesting post for All Seasons and have a beautiful week!

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  18. Hello, the Vireos are beautiful. I love all the birds. Wonderful collection of photos, your sky images are lovely. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. I've been away and now catching up with my comments and blog visits. I appreciate your comment and visit to my blog. Have a happy day and week ahead.

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  19. All your vireos are wonderful! And I love your moon shots! Have a great week!

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  20. Wow! That bird is sooo gorgeous! You always have fabulous critters to show us. The moon shots are awesome, too.

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