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White-eyed Vireo or Mangrove Vireo

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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 19:28   #1
tomjenner
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White-eyed Vireo or Mangrove Vireo

A couple of weeks ago I photographed a vireo on the coast of El Salvador that I thought was a Mangrove Vireo (Vireo pallens). I recently developed the photos and noticed that the bird looks much more like a White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus), a species not yet recorded in El Salvador (though a long overdue vagrant). I have very little experience with griseus (White-eyed Vireo) and I was hoping that some of you could give your views. I have outlined some of my thoughts below and included two photos of the bird and a photo of a known Mangrove Vireo, from Bahia de Jiquilisco in El Salvador, for comparison.

The distinctive pale whitish iris of the Jiboa bird is characteristic of griseus (White eyed Vireo). Stiles and Skutch describe the eye colour of pallens (Mangrove Vireo) as pale brown to yellow, whilst Land and Peterson and Chalif describe it as dark on the Pacific slope and whitish to light brown on the Caribbean slope. The Jiquilisco pallens (Mangrove Vireo) has a distinctly dark eye.

Peterson and Chalif describe pallens as having a dull yellow eye stripe instead of eye-ring. Stiles and Skutch describe the loral stripe of pallens (Mangrove Vireo) as continuing narrowly half way around the eye. The bird in these photographs has yellow extending over and behind the eye, but not underneath it. Sibley clearly pictures the yellow of griseus (White-eyed Vireo) extending right around behind and under the eye as does the photo in Farrand. This feature would suggest that the Jiboa bird is more likely to be pallens (Mangrove Vireo), even though it shows slightly more yellow around the eye than the Jiquilisco pallens (Mangrove Vireo).

Land describes the eye stripe of pallens (Mangrove Vireo) as dull yellow and the eye stripe of griseus (White-eyed Vireo) as yellow. Howell and Webb describe them both as yellow, but the plate shows it as a dull pale yellow in pallens compared to a much brighter yellow in griseus(White-eyed Vireo). Stiles and Skutch describe a yellowish-white loral stripe for pallens (Mangrove Vireo) and bright yellow spectacles for griseus (White-eyed Vireo). The Jiboa bird has bright yellow spectacles, compared to the paler, whitish-yellow colour in the Jiquilisco pallens (Mangrove Vireo). This feature suggests that the Jiboa bird is more likely to be griseus (White-eyed Vireo).

Plates in all guides show both species as having dark bills. However, Stiles and Skutch mention that pallens (Mangrove Vireo) has a grayish upper mandible and flesh-coloured lower mandible with a horn-coloured tip, whilst Howell and Webb describe it as grayish. They describe the upper mandible of griseus (White-eyed Vireo) as being black and the lower mandible as grey. The Jiboa bird has a pale, flesh-coloured bill that is slightly greyer on the upper mandible. This is similar to the photo of pallens (Mangrove Vireo) taken at Jiquilisco. This feature suggests that the Jiboa bird is pallens (Mangrove Vireo).

It is not clear from the literature that I have seen whether the lores of griseus (White-eyed Vireo) meet to give a yellow forehead. The lores of the Jiboa bird do not meet.

In summary, this bird appears to show the features of both griseus (White-eyed Vireo) - bright yellow lores and whitish iris - and pallens (Mangrove Vireo) - pale flesh-coloured bill and lack of a complete eye ring. There is some debate about whether the two forms should be considered a separate species, so this could be evidence in favour of that.
Tom
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Name:	Vireo, Rio Jiboa Sep 04 (2).JPG
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Name:	Mangrove Vireo Bah de Jiqui Oct 03.JPG
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Last edited by tomjenner : Wednesday 6th October 2004 at 21:19.
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 21:33   #2
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Tom,
I can't tell you what you have here, but I can tell you what I see for griseus in my Database. The only photos of pallens that I have are from your site. In any case, the joining of the yellowish lores over the insertion of the culmen does not seem to be constant. It may be age-dependent. I have them either joined in a decided yellow forehead or not quite joining and being separated only by the highest point of the culmen, and just barely separated. My photos of griseus show a bird having a whiter throat than your two unknowns, but this may be due to the quality of your photos that may withstand a good determination of how white the throat really is. Most of my griseus photos have the yellow lores extending back around and surrounding completely above and below the oculus. However, not even this seems to be constant, as a few of the photos appear to only have an incomplete yellow periocular ring being present only superiorly to the eye. The double wing bars are present in griseus. Your unknown appears to have quite a bit more yellow on the underparts than demonstrated by griseus.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 12:56   #3
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Thanks Steve
What bill colour do the White-eyed Vireos have in your photos?
Tom
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 14:47   #4
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Hi Tom,

I don't know El Salvador birds, but I have seen White-eyed Vireos on several occasions. In my opinion, this bird is not a White-eyed Vireo. Whenever I see one, I am stunned by the amount and brightness of the greenish on the flanks. Your bird just seems too dull. It may be the lighting, but it still looks dull. Here's a link to a photo of a White-eyed Vireo:

http://www.rarebird.org/forum/forum_...p?TID=227&PN=7
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 19:05   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomjenner
Thanks Steve
What bill colour do the White-eyed Vireos have in your photos?
Tom
Tom,
They all have a black upper mandible and a kind of less intense black on the lower mandible. Some seem to have a lighter linear zone following the mandible commissure at the aboral half of the beak that I am not sure if it is real or a reflection due to the lighting when the pictures were taken.
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Old Tuesday 12th October 2004, 20:18   #6
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Thanks Neil and Steve
The Rio Jiboa bird has a darker upper mandible and paler lower one, but I wouldn't describe the upper one as black. This suggests that the bird is not a white-eyed Vireo but a strangely marked Mangrove Vireo. As I mentioned previously, these two species are sometimes lumped as one, so this individual could indicate that they are indeed conspecific. I will keep a close eye on any I see in the future to see if there are others with similar eye and lore colouring. In the meantime, I would welcome any more comments from birders who are familiar with either species or from anyone with some more photos.
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Old Thursday 11th November 2004, 03:17   #7
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I was in southern Honduras last week where I managed to see another Vireo that was just like the one at Rio Jiboa. I am convinced now that they are both Mangrove Vireos and that the comment in the literature about them having dark irises on the Pacific coast is incorrect. It also seems that the colour of the lores shown in books is too pale and washed out. It may be that people have been studying immature birds without knowing it and the photo above from Bahia de Jiquilisco may be of a young bird. I will try to follow this up further. Thanks for all your useful information and comments.
Tom
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Old Thursday 11th November 2004, 22:07   #8
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Tom,
I have seen the Mangrove Vireo in the Quintanna Roo, Mexico area but failed to get a photo of it.I like your idea of the bird in your photos possibly being a juvinile.The photo seem to imply a red eye but the beak looks rather chunky to me.( maybe it's just my imagination or I don't have enough expirience with these birds)
Just thought Id give you my input.
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Old Thursday 11th November 2004, 23:23   #9
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I am not familiar with the Mangrove Vireo, but your bird does not look like any of the White-eyed Vireos which I have seem here in the states. I would conclude that the bird in your photo is a Mangrove Vireo. My "two cents worth".
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Old Sunday 8th May 2005, 00:05   #10
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I know this is very late, but this bird is a mangrove vireo (V.pallens). The third photo looks adult, with the normal adult eye color, the first two look juvenile. But definitely mangrove. The third photo is what adults look like in Tabasco mxico, which humorously enough, the ultimate (Howell) guide book excludes them from, yet i found 3 nests last week in los pantanos de centla, so Howell must be guessing a lot of the time for ranges (or failed to visit the state of Tabasco). So take everything with much salt and limn. The reality is that most winter plumages and age specific eye colors, bill colors, etc are poorly known for almost all tropical-subtropical birds (including all the migrants that breed in the US and Canada). So, unfortunately, one comes across many borderline cases that are difficult to discern, and there is no reference to guide decision making. Ultimately, the songs, calls, behavior and habitat associations may help making a tough decision. Many times, especially in the flycatchers, a song is worth a thousand photos. That said, the calls of a vireo are usually all you get(but distinctive nonetheless).
But knowing the mangrove vireo fairly well, the colors and shape look right.
There is a good paper from 1993 about frugivory in the vireos (Greenberg et al.???) in the condor, that addresses some subtle morphological differences between the white eye and the pallens that you may enjoy. And if you fire him the photos, i bet he could write a great amount about the morphological details of the mangrove vireo.
'e
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Old Monday 9th May 2005, 04:22   #11
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Thanks for the comments Eric
Since writing this, I have had a chance to look at quite a few more Mangrove Vireos myself. I saw a lot on Roatan Island off the north coast of Honduras. These are the paler subspecies V. p. pallens, which are found along the north coast of Honduras - see attached pic. I have also seen a few more on the Pacific slope of a different subspecies, which seem to be brighter. I had not been aware of this regional difference when first writing about Mangrove Vireos. It probably explains the differences between the plates in Howell and Webb and in Stiles and Skutch. I have also had the chance to see a few more White-eyed Vireos - 2nd pic - which are much brighter birds, have a mostly dark bill, with a bit of pale along the cutting edge, and they have much more yellow around the eye.
Whilst I was on Roatan in late March, I noticed that many of the Mangrove Vireos were acting as if they were displaying and they were very vocal. I hoped to locate a nest, but without success, as I saw in Howell and Webb thatthe nest and eggs of this species are undescribed. Are the ones you found the first for this species, or has anyone found any before? If they are, then congratulations are in order and I hope you plan to write a publication of your findings.

Tom
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Name:	White-eyed Vireo Yojoa Dec 04 (12).JPG
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Last edited by tomjenner : Monday 9th May 2005 at 04:33.
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