Two vagrant birds in a single season do not exactly constitute an “invasion”, but this October’s appearances of two White-eyed Vireos in Vermont’s Upper Valley have been remarkable. While birding at Kilowatt South Park in Wilder yesterday morning, trying to sort out the myriad sparrows (actually, just get decent looks at most of them), I found myself face-to-face with an immature White-eyed Vireo. The bird was 7-8 feet away, feasting on wild grapes in near-freezing weather. Its bright yellow spectacles, white throat and chest, pale yellowish sides, and bold white wing-bars made for an unmistakable identification. Its dark iris indicated a bird-of-the-year. I watched it for about 90 seconds, then was distracted again by the sparrow hordes and never managed to relocate it.
There appear to be no more than 15 valid (i.e., accepted by the Vermont Bird Records Committee) records of this species in Vermont, the first dating back to 1893. Most have been spring migratory overshoots, with a handful recorded in fall, the latest on October 26. Records have been spread all over the state, providing little evidence that White-eyed Vireos may be gradually infiltrating Vermont from their breeding range to the south. The species is not known to nest in New England north of Massachusetts, and only sparingly north of that state’s southeast corner.
The odds that this bird was the same individual photographed by Cindy Crawford and Wayne Cripps at Campbell Flats in Norwich (about 10 miles north) on October 13 seem vanishingly small, but anything is possible when it comes to the wanderings of migratory birds.