White-eyed Vireo (Vireo
Tassajara Creek Regional Park Dublin, Alameda County, California
22 May 2004
Today, Robbie Fischer and I visited the Tassajara Regional Park near Dublin to look for the White-eyed Vireo which had been found 20 May 2004 by Steve Huckabone, and which was also seen yesterday by Dave Quady and others. When I arrived at the parking lot about 8:30am, I met John Harris who had just returned from seeing the bird. He said that a lot of people got good looks this morning.
I then met Art Edwards and George Bing who had also seen the bird. Soon I heard the White-eyed Vireo singing across the creek from the parking lot. We walked over and heard it a few times, but could not see it. Art played a recording, but the bird did not appear to respond. He said that earlier the bird had been very responsive to a tape. We walked across the bridge and found the bird singing loudly in a large oak about 40 yards to the right of the far end of the bridge. Again, we were unable to see the bird and the playing of recorded songs did not help. Eventually the bird fell silent and Art and George departed.
After about an hour I heard the bird again about 200 yards upstream from where the fence makes a right angle. I called Robbie on the cell phone and she was able to hear the bird singing several more times before it fell silent again. I headed back toward the bridge when Robbie called me to say that it sang again from the same area as before. I returned with three other birders, including Matt Schwartz, but heard nothing. At this time Robbie had to leave. Eventually Matt climbed down a steep trail to the creek and located an unusual looking vireo. I decided to scramble down through the Poison Oak to see the bird which responded quickly to "pishing." It landed directly over my head, foraged high in the trees on the far side of the creek, but in good light and sang a few more times. Here I was able to get excellent views of the White-eyed Vireo for about 10 minutes. The following description is based on notes taken immediately after seeing the bird.
It had the large, rounded head and plump body shape and size of a Hutton's Vireo, but with paler face, and different distribution of yellow in the underparts. The white iris was quite evident in good light.
The forehead was a fairly bright olive-yellow, extending over the eye, but not forming obvious spectacles from my view. The yellow contrasted with a gray face and olive crown. The bill appeared black, blunt-tipped with a slight hook at the tip visible when the bird sang. The back and wings were olive with two whitish wing-bars formed by yellowish-white tips to the greater and median wing coverts. The underparts were mostly grayish, with bright yellow extending from the flanks up to the sides of the breast and almost connecting across the middle of the breast where the yellow color faded and blended with the gray underparts. The throat, belly and undertail coverts were ashy-white. The short, square-tipped tail was gray on the underside and showed no tail-spots. The legs and feet were gray.
The song was very distinctive. Mostly it was very loud and emphatic "Chick-a-per-wheeoo-Chick" but it also sang shorter versions that were quieter and less emphatic. The slurred "wheeeoo" note in the middle was always part of these efforts. It also gave a loud scolding call-note, harsh and whiny, long and somewhat slurred.
This is the fourth White-eyed Vireo I have seen in California; the others were at Point Reyes in Marin County in June 1977 and May 1978, and one that remained from late May until mid-June 1985 at Franks Valley, Muir Beach. Only 19 of the nearly 50 accepted California records are from Northern California but four of those were inland (3 from Mono County and one from Stanislaus County). A tentative list of Northern California records follows:
1. 4-5 Jun 69 SE Farallon I. SF 178-1980-7 (ph.)
2. 7-8 Jun 77 Pt. Reyes (Mendoza) MRN 65-1977-4
3. 18-21 May 78 Pt. Reyes (Mendoza) MRN 91-1978-5
4. 31 May-2 Jun 79 Oasis MNO 63-1979-5
5. 19 May 83 Pt. Reyes MRN 39-1982-8
6. 26 May-15 Jun 85 Franks Valley, Muir Beach MRN 53-1985-10
7. 2 Sep 88 Glass Creek MNO 43-1989-13
8. 13-14 Aug 92 Mono L. MNO 286-1992-18 (ph.)
9. 28 Oct 92 SE Farallon I. SF 297-1992-18 (ph.)
10. 4 Jun 94 Big Sur R. mouth MTY 105-1994-20 (ph.)
11. 1 Jun 97 Modesto STA 166-1998-23
12. 18 Jun 98 Butano Creek SM 26-1999-24
13. 27 Jun 98 Pt. Saint George DN 141-1998-24
14 20 May-17 Jun 00 Big Sur River mouth MTY (unreviewed)
15 12 Jun 00 Big Sur River mouth MTY (unreviewed; banded, different from unbanded singing male above).
16. 6 May 01 Pescadero Creek SM 127-2001-27
17 16 May 01 Big Sur River mouth MTY 128-2001-27
18 11 June 01 Big Sur River mouth MTY (unreviewed)
19 10-30 Jun 01 Trinidad HUM 138-2001-27 (incorrectly published as departing 17 June)
This is the first record for Alameda County. All California records are presumed to be of the widespread migratory subspecies V. g. griseus. "V. g. noveboracensis" is usually synonomized with V.g. griseus.
Steve Huckabone's original account is at http://folkbird.net/ebb/archive/a0405h.html#2002
Don Roberson has a nice account of Monterey records at http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTYlistWEVI.html