Plumbeous Vireo encounters – desert and coast

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – So far in 2013 I seem to be encountering more individuals of Plumbeous Vireo than Cassin’s Vireo. Perhaps the expanding range of Plumbeous is finally turning the tables on its dwindling congener? I am not sure, but I know that I really I enjoy finding either of these two characterful vireo species. Their loud vocalizations, whinnying and growling sounds, always amuse me. In addition they are often a flock leader, so if you find one you can often be on to a real bird crowd before you know it! This was the case out in the desert on 16 March 2013 when I heard this Plumbeous Vireo Vireo plumbeus let out a growling whinny call right over my head at The Roadunner Club in Borrego Springs. The bird was easily attracted by some pishing and had about twenty other birds in tow just behind it! In these photographs you can see the long stout bill characteristic of this species and stronger looking than Cassin’s Vireo. It appeared to be cleaning something off of it’s feet!

Plumbeous Vireo – The Roadrunner Club, Borrego Springs, 16 March 2013

Plumbeous Vireo – The Roadrunner Club, Borrego Springs, 16 March 2013

Plumbeous Vireo – The Roadrunner Club, Borrego Springs, 16 March 2013

Plumbeous Vireo – The Roadrunner Club, Borrego Springs, 16 March 2013

Just a week later, on 24 March 2013, while birding with visiting Australian birder Dirk Tomsa, I discovered another Plumbeous Vireo here on the San Diego coast. This bird was in the dense willow stands in the river bottom at the Bird & Butterfly Garden, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. It also revealed itself by making a whinnying call which we quickly went over to investigate. Vireos usually make one pass by you at least, and sure enough it came over investigate its human observers. We watched it for just a few minutes as it inquisitively circled by us in the trees. Although obscured by twigs, I did manage some photographs of it clambering around tantalizingly close. The strong bill and fleshy dark bluish-grey legs are particularly noticeable.

Plumbeous Vireo – Bird & Butterfly Garden, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, 24 March 2013

Plumbeous Vireo – Bird & Butterfly Garden, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, 24 March 2013

Plumbeous Vireo – Bird & Butterfly Garden, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, 24 March 2013

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