Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Red-eyed Vireo Alley

When you walk the Little Miami Bike Trail near the powder factory, there is one spring/summer visitor you will always hear, the Red-eyed Vireo. This neotropical migrant sings almost non-stop and has a call that is easy to recognize. Since the day the vireos arrived this spring, I have heard them every time I’ve been on the trail, no matter the hour of the day or the type of weather. You can also tell where one bird’s territory leaves off and another’s picks up, because the new owner is usually there to tell you. He has a happy call, and a fairly loud call too, “Look up!…See me?...Over here….This way…Higher still!




The Red-eyed Vireo was one of the first migrant’s songs I ever learned. I had read that a Scarlet Tanager sang a lot like an American Robin with a sore throat. So when I heard a song reminiscent of a robin’s song one day I thought by chance it might be a Scarlet Tanager, but soon enough I tracked him down and found instead a Red-eyed Vireo! That was a long time ago, and I’ll always remember that moment of recognition. It made me feel good to have figured something out on my own. It also helped me realize the power of birding by ear. Luckily, I had the song cemented into my brain that morning because the bird went on to sing about 20 reps before flying to some other part of his territory.


This lovely summer bird never seems to tire. Even in the heat of a summer’s day at noon I’ve heard him piping out his little song. Recently, I read in Jim McCormac’s book, “Birds of Ohio,” that “a pair requires only about one acre of forest for their territory, so densities can be quite high.” This explains the non-broken line of vireo song I hear as I walk along the Little Miami Bike Trail and why the trail becomes “Red-eyed Vireo Alley” in the summer.

28 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Beautiful bird, Kelly... I wish I could recognize birds by their song. I know a few---but get them all mixed up...

That Vireo is a pretty little bird. I have never seen one.

Have a great day tomorrow.
Hugs,
Betsy

Dave Lewis said...

Your blog is so relaxing to read. Life needs to be more like your stories.
Thanks!

Nature As Is said...

Lovely story Kelly I relly enjoyed reading it today. The Vireo sounds and looks like a very lovely bird indeed.

Kelly said...

Betsy....thank you! I don't really know that many. I want to know them all, but it is hard. I need to see them singing and listen to them a lot before it really sinks in. (I'm a slow learner I guess!)

Dave....thank you....wow...maybe I'm just reflecting what I feel when I step on that bike trail. The woods are so lush and green, the river so close, the birds so thick....everything comes together and is peaceful. As soon as I walk from the parking space through the tiny wooded path to the trail, I relax. It is a little gem smack in the middle of suburbia (thank goodness the glaciers carved the Little Miami River out so deeply, thus preventing houses from being built on its banks, keeping a little corridor for the birds).

Kelly said...

Crista...thank you. He is lovely. He also seems to be attracted to Matty. We laugh and call Matty the vireo magnet! He's seen up to 16 on one two-mile walk earlier this spring!

holdingmoments said...

Great informative post again Kelly.
He's a beauty.
And it is very rewarding, like you say, to pick out the birds by their song. I've still got loads to learn though. lol

Kelly said...

...thanks, Keith! I need to learn so much more about birdsong. I really only know the basics...

Nick S said...

I got my first looks at the Red-eued Vireos back today here in town by the river.
Mine were all very high up, but I did manage a couple of almost eye level shots that'll go on my blog soon.
Well done Kelly :-)

Kelly said...

...thanks, Nick! I can't wait to see your shots. They are no doubt way better than mine. He is a fun bird to watch...I love those little red eyes (which really stand out in the light!)

Vickie said...

Lovely vireo images. Great that you had a chance to enjoy this birds song for a while.

Jayne said...

Great shots Kelly. He's beautiful!

ShySongbird said...

Beautiful photos of a lovely little bird. I do wish I could get to grips with identification by song, it is so frustrating to hear lots of birds and not be able to identify them when they don't show themselves!

Laure Ferlita said...

Fun little guy you've got here! He reminds me of our Mockingbird in looks and the fact that he constantly sings. Mockingbirds sing ALL the time but they're singing other birds' songs - hence the name. I've even heard them singing at 3:30 in the morning. Apparently, they don't need to sleep!

Matt Latham said...

I so want to pay a visit to Red eyed vireo alley- wonderful birds!

Warren Baker said...

Learning birdsong is like riding a bike. Once youve learnt it you dont forget it!!

Heather said...

Great post Kelly. We have a very "chatty" Red-Eyed in our woods who goes on and on.
You brought up a really good point about how you learned this bird's song in figuring it out for yourself. I'm working on a post all about HOW to bird by ear, and that is something I will be touching on.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Wonderful shots, Kelly! Your blog is making me want to find a similar trail up here. Of course, my kids would want to come along, but they are learning to be good little watchers, too.

Arija said...

Really beautiful clear captures and such nice commentary too.

Steve B said...

LOL, I just left a comment on Eve's blog about the Scarlet Tanager sounding like a Robin with a Sore throat.

This is a great post and you're lucky that your vireos are cooperative enought to let you shoot them.

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. I fully understand your feelings as you stroll thro' the alley. Smashing photo's to support a lovely post. Lol FAB.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly. You seem to like writing a lot about the Vireo, but I as wondering, what do you think is your favourite bird?. If you can, would you put it on your next blog as well as here, just incase I forget to come back to this page. Regards Ken

Chris Petrak said...

very very nice - I've tried to get them to come down and into the open, w/o success so far - how did you manage?

Kelly said...

Vickie...Jayne...& Songbird....thank you! (Song...there are so many songs I don't know. It's always nice to know a few. It's great being able to stroll and know what's there without looking!

Laure...haha! I've heard our Mockingbird singing at 3:30 too. He doesn't do that very often, however...thank goodness!

Matt...you'd love it. Sometimes it seems like the birds just come down and pose!

Warren...I think you're right. The songs I know, I know. It's learning and remembering the new songs. It really works best for me to hear them and watch them sing. Don't know why that is, but when i see and hear I remember better (guess I'm a visual and auditory learner).

Heather...I can't wait to read your post. I hope you brought back lots of info from your symposium!!

Adrienne...haha! Yes...birding with Matty when he was young was more of a teaching experience and I didn't plan on a lot, but now, Matty is better at spotting the birds than I am. He spot this fellow...

Arija...Thank you!

Steve....haha! There you go....it's funny when things like that happen. I think the vireos like Matty. They truly come around him.

Frank...thank you very much!!

Ken...I have so many special birds, but the bird that has meant the most to me for the longest is the Carolina Chickadee. During the winter when the weather is below freezing the little Chickadee braves it out and always sings his little song. His song makes me happy every time I hear it.

Chris....this trail along the river is literally dripping with migrants sometimes and the Red-eyed Vireo (especially in spring) comes down very low to forage for insects. Plus....with Matty around, they seem to just drop in. I didn't have to do much work to see him!

Shellmo said...

Looked like he was posing for you to show you every beautiful profile shot! Lovely!

dAwN said...

Excellent information! I have a hard time telling vireos appart..my husband is better at it.
Thanks for some more education.

Anna said...

Oh wow these are amazing shots, and the song of vireo, that's just sounds like those American Robins we have every where we turn. We used to have more of red wing black birds, but again I think robins took over. Thanks for sharing, these are excellent images of the vireo. Anna :)

Kelly said...

Shelley....it does seem like he was posing. He was singing and posing...making sure I got both sides...

Dawn...well, I haven't had much luck with the other vireos. The trail is practically dripping with red-eyed vireos, so it makes for easy ID!

Anna....yes...he sounds a little bit like the Robin, which are everywhere here also...such a hard-working little bird. Thank you! I like your new photo!

Montanagirl said...

This is a pretty little bird. Great series of photos of him.