The Return of Bell’s Vireo

On Saturday Mike and I birded Johnson County Park.  One of the species we heard but did not see was a Bell’s Vireo. As you probably know Central Indiana is on the eastern edge of the breeding area for Bell’s. Bell’s has been in the Johnson County Park area since I moved here and I’m told it has been for years.  So it is always good to confirm the return of Bell’s to Johnson County.

For several reasons that I will blog about in the coming weeks I went back to Johnson County Park on Sunday.  I wasn’t particularly looking for Bell’s Vireo again Sunday but when I heard it start singing,  I eventually made my way that direction.

Remember: As always, click on images for a larger and clearer view.   All images are of a male Bell’s Vireo singing in some terrible lighting for photos.


143It took me about 15 minutes to wrap observing another species and I stayed around the Bell’s area for another hour with him singing the entire time.



His routine was to alternate singing in three spots. The main spot was a tree in the middle of a bushy area.  The other spots were trees 35 meters to the north and 25 meters south of the main tree.  This fits with Birds of North America Online stating the usual breeding territory is .5 hectare (60 meters squared = 3600 or .36 hectares.  A little small but there were man-made boundaries to limit the area.



According to eBird most Bell’s Vireo arrive the week’s of 5/1 or 5/8.   I’ll use 5/8 since that has been historically when I first hear them. The Birds of North America Online then supplied the rest of the details to fill out the chart below. The purpose of the chart is to give approximate dates so I can monitor the area to confirm some of the breeding cycle dates. Like watching for nest-building material being carried into the bush.  Or watch for food being carried in for nestlings.

But mainly to check if the male did attract a mate and breeding occurs.

Bell’s Vireo – Breeding Date Guesses
Male arrives 5/8/15
Female arrives/nest-building begins 10 days later 5/18/15
nest building 5 days 5/23/15
egg-laying 4 days 5/27/15
incubation 14 days 6/10/15
nestlings 12 days 6/22/15
fledged date 6/22/15

152So stayed tune to see if my predictions are close and if the I can confirm them.

5 Replies to “The Return of Bell’s Vireo”

    1. Thanks for reply. I had fun figuring out the dates. I’m going to attempt to more often stand off to the side and watch for longer periods like this guy let me do.

  1. I’d like to subscribe. Also, I’d like to see or at least hear the Bell’s Vireo at Johnson County Park. Would you offer a more specific location, please?

    1. First of all, not sure you meant too, but you have subscribed to Comments only. If you want to recieve blog posts you just need to enter your email address on the front page in the right column – “Subscribe to Blog via Email”.

      And I will contact you via email on a more specific location.

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