This morning, some of the other cuckoo researchers that I work with were attempting to capture one of our nesting cuckoos at our best cuckoo breeding site along the Lower Colorado River and accidentally captured a fantastic find for this area of the US; a White-eyed Vireo! The site they were at was on the Arizona side of the river in a recently installed riparian ecological restoration. These sites were built in agricultural fields along the river for the benefit of threatened species like the ‘Southwestern’ Willow Flycatcher and the ‘Western’ Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
As the crew approached the net this morning, which was intended to capture one of our nesting cuckoos, they immediately noticed the odd bird in the mist net. Ben Zyla, who had just worked in Fort Hood and had captured and banded loads of White-eyed Vireo was the first to ID the bird. The bird appears to be undergoing a complete body molt, which likely means that it had over-summered in this area, and since this particular restoration site is the only one along this stretch of the river, I would guess it was there the whole time!
According to eBird records, it looks like this is the first sighting for the western half of the state. For California, there has been one other record along the Lower Colorado River, about 30 miles south of where this bird was found today. Below are some photos taken by Ben Zyla of the vireo. Unfortunately, I was at another site and so I didn’t hear about this great find until I got back to the crew house and everyone told me…..