Blue-headed vireo. ( Magnus Manske)

There are several types of vireos that come into our area. All are chatty birds which sing regularly throughout their range. Many birds sing more in the morning and at dusk. Also, as spring stretches into summer, many birds are less vocal, but not vireos. Especially the red-eyed vireo, which talks to itself constantly all summer and spring. These birds like to talk.

The blue-headed vireo (photo by Magnus Manske) is one of my favorites. It prefers coniferous forest, and in our area, is usually found at elevations of 1,000 feet or higher. Vireos are slightly larger than chickadees and warblers, but they are still small birds. They are different shades of gray and olive colors, and they forage at mid-height in the forest. This makes them difficult to spot at times.

The blue-headed vireo has a gray-blue head, and an olive-green back, tail and flanks, with a clean white breast. Its most distinguishing feature are the spectacles it sports. Two distinct white eye-rings are connected by a white band across the bridge of its bill.

David Sibley says that the blue-headed vireo sounds like it is saying, “Cheerio, be-seein’-u, so-long, see-ya …”. There are usually 1-second pauses between each “word” in its song. To be honest, I have a hard time telling the difference between a blue-headed vireo and another common vireo in our area, the red-headed vireo.

But, here’s the game I like to play. When I hear one of these chatty birds, I like to pause and look for the bird in the mid-height of the trees around me. If I find the bird, I look for those white “spectacles” that stand out on the blue-headed vireo. Usually it only takes a quick glimpse to know which one I’m seeing.

This spring, hike one of Mahoosuc Land Trust’s trails and play this game of hide-and-seek with these chatty birds.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust which celebrates 30 years conserving the natural areas of the Mahoosuc Region. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road in Bethel, or at www.mahoosuc.org. To learn about events or to contact James, email [email protected]


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