Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-

(This form was filled out using information from an original document)

Common name:

White-eyed Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo griseus
Date: 24 Jun 2004
Time: 9:00 am
Length of time observed:  Audial: c. 30 minutes. Visual: c. 1 minute.
Number: 1
Location: Roughly 2 miles north of the main east-west street of Green River along Long St
County: Emery
Distance to bird: c. 15 feet away.
Optical equipment: Zeiss 10x40 binoculars.
Light Conditions:  
Detailed description of bird: Size: A small passerine, similar in size to a Hutton’s Vireo, with roughly similar proportions.
Bill: Thick for a warbler, and generally “vireo-like”, with a distinctive short hook at the tip of the upper mandible. All-dark.
Eye: Distinctly pale whitish with a black iris, starkly offset against facial color.
Head: Greenish, with thick, bright yellow lores extending up into fore-crown and over eye. Much more extensive than pale loral wash of Hutton’s Vireo or spectacles of “Solitary” Vireo, as if sloppily painted on by a broad brush. Pale throat.
Body, wings, and tail: Generally olive above, pale whitish below with pale yellowish on flanks; two whitish wingbars. Tail not seen well, but of medium length and with no noticeable markings.
(see original
Song or call & method of delivery: A loud, rich warble “book-ended” by sharp, single (and essentially identical) chip notes; totally distinctive and unmistakable. I hear this species to say Quick, gimmie a rain Check!, and this individual sounded like every other White-eyed Vireo I’ve heard, repeating this song about four times per minute. It would go quite for several minutes at a time, but then start up again, from the same general patch of vegetation. Several times, it put one of the “chip” notes in the middle of the song, similar to the way Bewick’s Wrens often mix up the order of their chips and trills. However, this was the exception, and the bird basically sang the standard “chip-warble-chip” song throughout the duration of the observation.
Behavior: The bird was active – not fidgety like a kinglet– but moving in short bursts from perch to perch, pausing to a few times to sing and then flitting to the next perch. It hover-gleaned once, but did not flick its wings or tail. It stayed within the same level in the same tree for the duration of the observation, and, based on where the song was coming from, didn’t move away from this spot for the 30 minutes I was with it. It didn’t seem responsive to pishing, but did move enough that I was able to get several good views through the branches.
Habitat: The bird was in riparian vegetation (mainly Phragmites, Russian Olive, Tamarisk) in a sump on the outside of an irrigation drain that crossed underneath Long St. just north of a dog-leg turn. Black with orange-lettered “No Trespassing” signs were posted on posts on either side of the levee-top road. Small groves of Fremont Cottonwood and Chinese Elm were adjacent to the drain, and irrigated agricultural fields (corn, alfalfa) were nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Nothing really sounds remotely like a singing White-eyed Vireo, but with chats, catbirds, and mockingbirds in the area, I wanted to track it down visually just to confirm that it wasn’t one of these just “stuck” on White-eyed Vireo for a half-hour. Seeing the bird clinched it, as no other small temperate North American passerine has that white eye, esp. offset by wide yellow lores. (note: the chat and the catbirds were imitating a wide range of species, incl. Common Poorwill, Western Kingbird, Western Meadowlark, etc. – but not White-eyed Vireo).
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
20+ years of birding in California, plus birding trips throughout the U.S. Part-time leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours since 1997. I last saw (and heard) many White-eyed Vireos in Port Aransas, TX, in April 2003, and have encountered it dozens of times in Texas and Florida, and a handful of times in Massachusetts, where I lived for four years, and elsewhere. Often, it is the only bird singing on slow migration days in spring, and the song becomes background noise in scrublands in Texas and hammocks in Florida – a classic example of vocalization that’s sort of burned into your head so that you can pick it out anywhere, mainly because you’re trying to filter it out!
References consulted:  
Description from:  
Observer: Daniel S. Cooper
Observer's address: 415 North Orange Grove Ave., #15, Los Angeles, CA  90036
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 24 Jun 2004
Additional material: (see the original document)
Additional comments: