Red-eyed Vireos and Patch Birding

As you know I'm constantly inspired by the young birders I have mentored. Everyone knows I'm rare-bird crazy. However, Bridget Spencer a young birder I've worked with since starting the young birder program, told me years ago, that I need to find my own patch and work it. Bridget is THE BEST patch birder I know. She works her patch hard and diligently and turns up great birds. She has found many rarities too in her patch like a Gray Flycatcher.

When Bridget tells me to do something I listen. I found two small parks near me about a block apart and began to bird them every day and boy she was right I really enjoyed seeing which new species would turn up every day. I really had fun adding new species to the park list and also finding rarities for the park. I was amazed at how many birds funnel through these two parks from Olive-sided Flycatchers to Warblers to Cassin's Vireos and everything in between. Richmond is so developed that the birds don't have many choices when it comes to green spaces in this urban environment.

A year ago I found a Northern Waterthrush and Roger Foxall and Doug Bamford who were chasing my bird found a Red-eyed Vireo (REVI). I never saw that bird and can you believe that bird I was much more interested in seeing?!.

Red-eyed Vireos are one of my fave birds on the planet. That red eye gets me every time. They also have such beautiful songs (listen to him singing here) and they are always the last new breeding passerine species I get for my Metro Van year list. They usually get back the first few days of June.

Well I went for a lunch break at my patch Garden City Park and found one today. I usually share with Bridget new patch birds via text cause she's in CA and she does the same about what new rare warblers etc. that she is turning up in her San Diego patch. Yes she works her new patch just as hard. I arranged for Paul Lehman to connect with her and he was equally impressed when she found him a rare Canada Warbler.

So once again, thanks to my young birders I have more joy in my day. If I didn't listen to Bridget I may never have found this beautiful migrant singing his heart out. Also in general Red-eyed Vireos are not easy birds to photograph but this little one sat at eye level fairly close to me.  It's what makes birding so magical for me. It was the first time I have photographed this species in any sort of decent fashion. It was the first day I could smile a bit after the passing of my beloved "Chester" whom I still miss every moment. 

Recently in BC you have heard about the logging of the remaining old growth forests by the BC NDP Gov't and the blockades and protests at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island. Also Tak Shibata and I have been working closely with a conservation officer at Iona because Seaspan caused a pair of Osprey to abandon their nest. Also with TMX destroying nesting habitat and a permit the BC Gov't gave to a mine in Abbotsford to break the BC Wildlife Act and blast around nesting Peregrines and birds dying from rodenticides , you get weary from fighting sometimes. With so much negative news for birds, it is nice to get something to lift you up in the birding world and seeing this REVI sure elevated me.

So the message is to work your patch. You just never know what you can find. Sure finding a rarity in your patch is great and it makes it all the more special but finding a common bird like this that's new for you in your own patch is also equally as wonderful. 

Red-eyed Vireo - Photos: Melissa Hafting


  1. these are the best red-eyed vireo shots ive seen taken in the vancouver area! well done girl!

  2. beautiful shots mel and great post. I enjoy the passion in which you write.

  3. so satisfying to find something as beautiful as that vireo in your local patch! you can really see that it has a big ol beak

    1. it truly is satisfying to find something unusual in your patch thank you my friend and hope you are well!


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