Plumbeous Vireo (PLVI)

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.)

Plumbeous Vireo, adult 1

adult PLVI, on nest

PLVI nest--possible 2nd adult

possible 2nd adult PLVI, on nest

Plumbeous Vireo nestlings, 2-3 days old?

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.

PLVI nestlings, ~6 days old

PLVI nestlings, ~6 days old, body view

PLVI nesltings, !6 days old (backs)

PLVI nestlings, ~6 days old (view of backs)

Once the nestlings had fledged, we took some close-up photos of the nest’s construction.  This nest was at the tip of a slender juniper branch, about 5 feet from the ground.
PLVI nest interior, post-fledging

PLVI nest interior, post-fledging

PLVI nest--possible 2nd adult

PLVI nest, interior--post-fledging

PLVI nest exterior, post-fledging
PLVI nest exterior, post-fledging

© 2008 Tina Mitchell


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