#780….Thick-billed Vireo!

On paper, a Thick-billed Vireo description reads a little like a “LBJ” (little brown job). “Medium sized (5-6 inches), olive-green upperparts, brown iris, pale yellow underparts. Most often heard, not seen. Frequents dense undergrowth and thickets”. Oh….and it’s a Code 4 – meaning it pops over from the Bahamas to southeastern Florida, maybe once every other year. Frankly, I never felt I’d be in the right place at the right time to find this non-migratory bird. Therefore, I never expected to add this accidental US visitor to my life-list. Until President’s Day.

Fortunately for me, I was traveling to Fort Lauderdale very early Monday morning (5:45 flight!), a day after the rare bird report texts came over my phone. Crandon Park, Key Biscayne…..totally doable from Lauderdale. Everything went smoothly and I pulled into an empty Crandon Park Nature Center parking lot at 10am.

My early concern that this was going to be another “needle-in-the-haystack” search was alleviated as I was quickly joined by a woman from Orlando, a man from Milwaukee, a father-son duet from Toronto and a “Big Year” participant from Australia. Within minutes our target vocalized and we caught glimpses of him darting through the, yes….dense undergrowth, hunting for insects.

I had my “lifer” but a photograph seemed impossible. The others also were equipped with cameras but the conditions were not permitting a photograph worthy of this blog. Over the next three hours, perhaps satisfied with (at best) a dark silhouette image of this passerine, the others wished me well and departed. Except for the VERY persistent and friendly Canadians. Not much longer after the self-described “impatient ADD” man from Sydney succumbed to the bugs, the Toronto guys motioned me through the tangles to come to the courtyard. There was our bird, gleaning a meal from an eye-level bush. I think you will agree that he is far from drab or dull but rather, well….spectacular!

Thick-billed Vireo (Key Biscayne)

Code 4! Thick-billed Vireo

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to #780….Thick-billed Vireo!

  1. Jeffrey Dingle says:

    I knew first!!

    Sent from myPhone


  2. Jeffrey Dingle says:

    Crandon Park!

    How many times have I been there… Decades ago.

    Nice photos.


    Sent from myPhone


  3. Arlin S Green says:


  4. Henry Maguire says:

    Well done


    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Joe K says:

    Nicely done, George — glad you got those terrific shots!

  6. Tom M says:

    Another excellent bird for the list!!!

  7. mselverian@gmail.com says:

    Great photo capture, Woody!

    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Joe Weisbord says:

    That’s an amazing photo of a beautiful bird! Nice catch, George!

  9. Maura Ciccarelli says:

    My husband and I have become more interested in birds now that we are traveling the US fulltime. Our current campground in New Mexico has Gambel’s quail and white winged doves and a bunch of others that we are trying to identify. Thanks for sharing your latest sighting, George! Hope you are doing well.

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