White-eyed vireo's songs are erratic

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pictured here is a white-eyed vireo I have captured with an assassin bug in its beak. This is a common small songbird of the southeastern quarter of North America.

The white-eyed vireo is only about 4 1/2 inches long from tip of beak to tip of tail. It is a vocal little bird whose song is rather erratic. This amplifies the difficulty of identifying it even when seen in the field.

This bird's classic eye has a black pupil, white iris, dark gray to black rim of short hairs surrounding the eye, followed by a ring of slightly longer yellow hairlike feathers. This makes the bird's eyes its most striking feature.

Insects are the primary food of this bird that leaves Missouri during autumn to vacation along the Gulf Coast in winter.

The white-eyed vireo is another of our songbirds that uses spider webs to hold its nest together.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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