10 October 2014. Cayuga ON. I make no apologies for celebrating a Blue-headed Vireo as my Bird of the Day even though I did so just a couple of weeks ago. Quite simply, today’s vireo met the standard that it, among all of the day’s birds, made me think Wow!
This time of year is a birding roller coaster, the weather is changeable, birds are migrating in enormous numbers and trees are shedding their leaves. I was at the bird observatory all morning, there was a touch of frost first thing, but by midday it was almost T-shirt weather. Our expansive meadows are knee-deep in what were once bright flowers but are now billions of seeds for American Goldfinches, House Finches and Song Sparrows, and there are trusses of wild grapes drawing in squalling flights of American Robins and young Cedar Waxwings; it’s time to fatten up .
My census round seemed quiet at first but here and there I could hear (and sometimes see) White-throated Sparrows or their close cousins White-crowned Sparrows. I watched two Northern Flickers high in a Shagbark Hickory feasting on Poison Ivy berries. (A couple of side notes: Our local sub-species of Poison Ivy is a high-climbing woody vine, unlike the more northerly ground-hugging version which rarely grows more than a metre high. I doubt any rational person would venture to eat the berries but clearly many other creatures are unaffected. After all, berries are the way they are in order to be eaten by something.) I noted a few Yellow-rumped Warblers foraging and it wasn’t until near the end of the census route that I found the Blue-headed Vireo. It seemed quite unmoved by the mini-crisis that was being whipped up by a small group of Black-capped Chickadees and a handful of anxious Chipping Sparrows. The vireo just went on about its business of gleaning insects from the inner branches of an American Basswood. I stood to watch and enjoy it for a while although it was never still for very long but I was able to get this satisfying action photo.