Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blue-headed Vireo in Sarasota in June!


Imagine my surprise this afternoon while pedaling up Lockwood Ridge Avenue just past Gocio Street when I heard the familiar voice of Blue-headed Vireo singing from the trees behind the Sarasota County Fire Rescue building. Not wanting to believe my ears at first I walked behind the building and searched a live oak where I finally saw the bird slowly and methodically moving through the vegetation. The temperature was 93 degrees F and the humidity 65 percent and this guy was singing like it was early spring.

The reason this was an interesting sighting can be found in the range map of this species available from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology You can listen to its song at this link.

I saw Blue-headed Vireos in Sarasota through much of March and early April and then on cue they disappeared. And I have covered the same route on my bicycle almost every day since early March. I've not heard a Blue-headed Vireo singing along here since late March. According to the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas there are no breeding season records of this species during the years the Atlas was being researched.

So why is this bird here now when it should be several hundred miles further north (and cooler!) than he is now? Its another of those ornithological mysteries that keep making it fun to look at birds. My guess is that either the bird experienced a nesting failure further north and decided to head back to the subtropics to avoid the rush but was still pumping testosterone and had to let off steam some how. The other guess is that he never went north at all this spring, preferring a more tropical climate at the littler latitudes.

Regardless its pretty cool having him here at this time of year.


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