[Tweeters] Blue-Headed Vireo in Pend Oreille Co.

Gina Sheridan gsherida8502 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 18 18:28:29 PDT 2005

probable Blue-headed Vireo in Dry Canyon (Pend Oreille
County), several other birders have been up to see the
bird. Apparently, Jim Acton has recorded the bird's
song so we will hopefully have a verdict on it's

On Friday (7/15/05), Harold & Karen Cottet and I
birded Pend Oreille County. In the cool early morning,
bird activity was strong. In the southeastern portion
of the county, we saw and heard plenty of the regular
breeders along Spring Valley Road and the Lake of the
Woods area. Some of the regulars that we noted
included Cedar Waxwing, Lazuli Bunting, Vesper
Sparrow, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, a family of
MacGillivray's Warblers, Willow & Hammond's
Flycatchers, W. Wood Pewees, Belted Kingfishers, etc.
Swainson's Thrushes were abundant. 

On side a side (Tweedle Road), we saw MOUNTAIN
BLUEBIRD and pair of VEERY that were chasing each
other around. Red Squirrel, White-tailed Deer,
Snowshoe Hare, and a PINE MARTEN were in the vicinity
too. Although the marten did not allow any lingering
views, it was the first one that I have seen in the

On the Pend Oreille River, we saw a lone, adult
CALIFORNIA GULL south of Dalkena. Non-Ring-billed
Gulls are not common in the county.

In the Kalispell Indian Reservation Marsh, a calling
VIRGINIA RAIL flew up out the cattails and gave us a
brief view. Plenty of eclipsed plumaged ducks with and
young were present here such as Wood Duck, Pied-billed
Grebe, Mallard, and American Wigeon. On the dike road,
we observed an immature Bald Eagle being harassed by
Eastern Kingbirds. In the Flying Goose Ranch, a nice
AMERICAN REDSTART was singing away. 

By late morning, the temperatures were in the high 70s
and bird activity had considerably decreased. When we
arrived at the Dry Canyon spot, we heard distant
calling Olive-sided Flycatcher and saw Hairy
Woodpecker and Cedar Waxwing. However, it was at least
half any hour before we heard any vireos. 

A vireo came began singing near the road, but none of
could get any glass on the bird. After a couple of
minutes, the bird went silent. The song sounded
promising for Blue-headed Vireo, but it remained
visually unconfirmed. During our lunch there, we heard
a typical Cassin's Vireo singing some forty yards to
the west.

As we were growing discouraged, another vireo began
singing in higher pitched, sweeter voice. After about
ten minutes of standing on the shoulder of the road, I
decided to bush whack my way in the woods. Finally, I
observed the vireo in question in full song. The bird
clearly had a well defined gray head that contrasted
with a white throat. Due to some overcast and forest
shade, I couldn't detect much more detail other than
it was a "solitary type" with wingbars, white
spectacles. After less than a minute of viewing time,
the bird flew much farther to the east. Since the
Cottets had remained on the road, they never saw the

Later, we walked back in on a old forestry track, and
I attempted my pygmy owl call. Somehow, I actually
brought in some Chestnut-backed Chickadees, a female
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER, and a typical washed out
looking Cassin's Vireo. 

If anyone else wants to try for this bird, patience is
required! There are several Cassin's Vireos in this
locale and most of the vireo singing is intermittant
at best (by midday). Early morning would no doubt be
more productive.

On our return down Tacoma Creek Road, we ran into
(almost literally) a huge cow moose and her calf. 
Common Goldeneye, Belted Kingfishers, Red-necked
Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes, Ring-necked Ducks, and
Vaux's Swift were noted on one of the lakes.

As a quick addendum, I managed to pick up a Spokane
County lifer on Sunday (7/17/05). After Jim Acton
informed me that he saw Caspian Terns on Philleo Lake,
I bolted down there to look for them. On the rocky
shoal, midway section of the lake, there were four
CASPIAN TERNs on the western shoreline with an adult
BONAPARTE'S GULL, and at least twenty WHITE PELICANs.

Gina Sheridan
Spokane, WA

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