Louisiana Bird Records Committee

Rare Bird Documentation


Scott Terrill

385 Old Turnpike Rd.

Los Gatos, CA 95033



Species: Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)


Date: 12 April 2011


Location: Sureway Woods, Grand Isle, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.


Optical Equipment: Swarovski 8.5 X 42


Other Observers: Originally found by Colin Boeh et al.; Seen also by Ryan (photos) and Linda Terrill and several other observers.


Circumstances: Colin Boeh told us that he had seen a Black-whiskered Vireo near the junction of the main trail and the entrance road to Sureway Woods about an hour earlier (around 11:30?).  We were working a flock of migrants at approximately 12:30 that included Blackburnian, Prairie, N Parula, Black-and-white, etc., when Ryan spotted the Black-whiskered Vireo.  We then spent approximately 5+ minutes observing and photographing the bird.  We were able to get as close as an estimated 6-8 meters to the vireo that, at times, was foraging in the open.

Description: A large, sluggish vireo similar to nearby Red-eyed Vireos (V. olivaceus) in overall size, shape and plumage.  Foraging slow and deliberate.  Pileum grayish olive grading into olive-brown nape and back (contrast between pileum and nape not so stark as on the Red-eyed Vireos and olive of upperparts appeared  more brownish toned relative to the Red-eyed Vireos).  The overall effect was less green and gray contrast on the upperparts compared to Red-eyed Vireos.  The bill appeared large with a pale base to the mandible reminiscent of Yellow-green Vireo (V. flavoviridis).  The bird had a dull whitish supercilium bordered below by blackish eyeline that ran from the base of the bill to a tapered point behind the eye.  The auriculars were olive and the bird showed a malar stripe.  The conspicuousness of the malar stripe varied with posture and lighting.  The throat was off white or grayish white as was the center of the breast and upper belly.  The sides of the breast and flanks were washed with olive and the undertail coverts were washed with yellowish.  The tail was rather short and dark gray.  The wings and coverts were similar in color to the back with some lighter green edgings.  Legs relative robust and dark.


Discussion:  This species is a rare to casual spring migrant to the Gulf coast with most LA records occurring from mid-April to early June.  Evidently, Grand Isle is a very good location for this species in LA (Ryan Terrill, pers. comm.).  It was a delight to see this bird on the Gulf coast away from breeding grounds in Florida.