During an otherwise unremarkable visit to South Platte Park this morning, I encountered a plumbeous vireo, hunting in shrubs west of Eaglewatch Lake. Previously grouped with other vireo species under the title "solitary vireo," this gray and white songbird is now classified as a unique species; like all prior members of the group, it has prominent white "spectacles."
Plumbeous vireos breed along the Southern Rockies, from Colorado to Mexico, and across most of the Great Basin. Primarily insectivores, they move rather slowly among the branches of trees and shrubs, snaring prey from the vegetation; berries are also consumed during the winter months when these songbirds head to coastal regions of Mexico and woodlands of Central America.
True to its former name, this morning's visitor, on his way to mountain forests, was alone. Unlike many warblers and vireos, his feeding activity was unhurried and methodical, making identification easy in the bright Colorado sunshine. Perhaps he'll stop by again when chilly September nights invade the Rockies.