In 1997, Solitary Vireo was split into 3 separate species: Blue-headed Vireo (eastern U.S. and Canada), Cassin’s Vireo (west coast), and Plumbeous Vireo (the Rockies and Great Basin). More than half of the U.S. population of PLVIs breed in just 3 states: New Mexico (22%), Arizona (20%), and Colorado (12%). In early June, Zell found a PLVI nest, just by chance. He had been doing target practice with a new handgun in a new area of the property. As he was packing up to head home, he saw a bird fly off from very near where he had been shooting. He spotted the nest with 3 small eggs in it. Apparently the adult had stuck tight on the nest through the entire shooting session. Wow.
We have photos of what I believe are both the male and the female PLVI on the nest. (Both parents incubate.) It could just be a difference in the light. But one bird seems to have a less solid eye ring and a lighter head. (If you click on any of the photos, you’ll see an enlarged version.)
In late June, I found nestlings. I had originally thought, from this photo, that these guys were quite young—-perhaps 3 days old. But later, in looking at 2 blurry photos Zell took at the same time, I realized that these dudes had significant feathers emerging. Since Birds of North America Online says that nestlings open their eyes around day 7, I’m now guessing that these nestlings were more like 6 days old or so.
Don’t stare too hard at the next 2 photos—-your eyes may start to cross. (We were so close that the camera had a hard time focusing well on the young.) But you can see pretty clearly the feathers coming in, even if nothing else is clear. This was a delightful discovery for me. I had been thinking that the nest had been depredated, since 7 days later (when I had been thinking they would have been 9-10 days old), I found an empty nest. But if, instead, they had been ~13 days old, they could actually have successfully fledged. Since I’ll never know for sure, I’m sticking with this happier story.
© 2008 Tina Mitchell