New series: BIG YEAR BIRDS
A new series of blog posts will highlight select, somewhat tough-to-get species and locations and tips for where to see them in Ohio. Hopefully this will aid you in your 2011 state big year.
Bell’s is a small vireo, more compact and vivacious then Warbling, favoring dense, low, shrubby vegetation, generally early successional stages in riparian areas, brushy fields, young second-growth forest or woodland, scrub oak, and brushlands, often near small watercourses. Bell’s Vireo is rare in Ohio, but it does breed in small numbers, particularly in the southwestern/south-central portions of the state. There are several pairs that have, for the past several years, reliably nested within the Columbus city limits. One of the best spots to see Bell’s is along the Heritage Bike Trail where it passes along Homestead Park, on Cosgray Road in Hilliard.
(The Heritage Trail is a multi-purpose trail converted from abandoned right-of-way located in Franklin and Madison Counties in Central Ohio. The trail starts in Old Hilliard off of Main Street and continues toward Plain City.)
Homestead Park, operated by the city, is a quaint greenspace with small walking trails, picnic areas and play areas. The multipurpose bike trail, which runs north-south, can be reached by walking west from the parking lots at Homestead, just a few hundred feet. Head NORTH on the bike trail, and on both sides of the trail, you’ll see low-lying brush and second-growth trees. We didn’t have to walk far before hearing a male Bell’s chattering away. The sound is quite unmistakable, a hurried, throaty, jumble of notes. Much faster, harsher, and twangier than Warbling Vireo.
Check out a sound clip here, on Cornell’s site: BELL’S VIREO SONG
Our “Eastern” Bell’s Vireos look similar to Warbling Vireo, but are very yellow underneath, particularly on the flanks and sides of the chest. The head pattern is pretty sharp, too, sporting a full bluish-gray cap, nape, and cheeks, and a constrasting white eyeline.
WHEN TO GO: mid May through June. Birds arrive in May, set up territories, and sing vivaciously through June.