White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus
The earliest documented observation of White-eyed Vireo is from 26 January 1934 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). They are our county’s most abundant vireo species, and is the only one that can be found year-round. eBird data suggests they are more abundant in spring during April and again in fall from early September through November 1. October reports spike considerably, perhaps suggesting post-breeding dispersal or migration. Observations are scarce in winter months, but they can be found with some persistence. They are fairly reliable at most of the local hotspots across a wide variety of habitats; the first few hundred yards after entering Huguenot Memorial Park can be excellent, as can the trails of Reddie Point Preserve. If you’re on the west side of the county, Taye Brown Regional Park is your best bet.
Bell’s Vireo Vireo bellii
There are five reports of Bell’s Vireo in Duval County history. The first was reported by Julie Cocke on 31 October 1973 (Edscorn, 1974) and the second was reported by Virge Markgraf on 5 October 1980. Markgraf’s observation was in her backyard where the flock included the Bell’s, a Red-eyed Vireo, two Philadelphia Vireos, and one Warbling Vireo (Atherton & Atherton, 1981).
Roger Clark owns two of the most recent reports, both coming from his time on Fort George Island. The first was reported on 29 Sept 2003 at Kingsley Plantation (Pranty, 2004) and the second on 4 October 2007 from the same general area (about one quarter mile from the Kingsley gate).
The most recent reported observation was from a very unlikely place – Perdue Pond – on 8 October 2016. It is a report I don’t give much credence, but is worth noting.
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
Yellow-throated Vireo occur from early March through mid October, but although they are a localized breeding species they are not consistently seen or reported outside of spring and fall migration. The earliest records come from 3 April 1931 and 15 April 1936, when Grimes collected eggs from the nest of at least one breeding pair (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). An early spring arrival was noted as 8 March 1957, which has since been bested by a report from late February.
There is at least one winter report of the species, coming from 26 December 1965 (Cunningham, 1966). During spring migration, look for them throughout April at Reddie Point Preserve or Fort George Island. The most reliable place to find them during the late spring and summer are the deciduous woods of Seaton Creek Historical Preserve, where they can be found around the “Picnic Table” area on the site’s trail map. This habitat is consistent with breeding notes dating back to 12 April 1930, where Grimes noted finding several nests in pine forest (Howell, 1932, p. 378).
Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius
Blue-headed Vireo is a winter resident in Jacksonville, arriving in mid-October and departing by the first of May. They can obviously be found throughout the county, but particularly good places to seek them are Reddie Point Preserve, Theodore Roosevelt Preserve, Ringhaver Park, and Fort George Island. There is no specific earliest date, but Howell did mention a specimen collected in Jacksonville by 1932. There are no verifiable summer records including through the third week of September.
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus
There are but five reports of this rare species beginning with the one in Markgraf’s south Jacksonville yard on 5 October 1980 (see Bell’s account above). On 24 April 1982 Peggy Powell observed the second county bird (Kale, 1982); the third report comes from Julie Cocke on 19 Sept 2003 where she observed one in her yard in south Jacksonville (Pranty, 2004).
The fourth report is from 13 October 2007 during a local Audubon field trip led by Roger Clark. I recall the day vividly, where the large group of us were birding around Kingsley Plantation looking for migrant warblers. I noticed Roger step away from the pack and turn around to face the trees on the north side of the ruins; since he was the trip leader, I dutifully followed him and he quickly pointed out a Warbling Vireo foraging directly overhead. We got good looks for about a minute and by the time the rest of the group made it over, it was gone. I still tease Gary Davis to this day about the incident, since he was one of the ones looking at Chickadees instead if “following the leader”.
The most recent report is of a bird I observed at Reddie Point Preserve on 16 September 2018.
Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus
There have been a number of reports of Philadelphia Vireo over the years, all but one of which have come from the month of October. The earliest dates come from 10 October and 13 October 1968 of a single bird reported by Ray Edwards that Robertson and Ogden (1969) speculated was the second “Northern Peninsula record”. The second report is from 5 October 1980 during the aforementioned Vireo bonanza in Markgraf’s yard.
Julie Cocke reported them nine times over 35 years in her south Jacksonville yard including 15 October 1989 (West, 1990) and 24 October 1992 (West & Wamer, 1993). Other reports are from Kingsley Plantation (5 October 1991), Kingsley on 8 October 1996 (Rowan, 1996), Fort George Island (2 October 1999), and David Foster recorded one at Reddie Point Preserve on 5 October 2014. Recent observations include a remarkable four reported on 21 October 2019 at the Arboretum (one bird was photographed), and singles recorded at Hanna Park on 21 and 22 October 2019.
The lone exception to the October rule on this species is one observed by Paul Sykes on Fort George Island 6 May 2002 (Pranty, 2002).
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
Red-eyed Vireo is a summer resident and breeding species in Duval County, arriving in numbers in mid-March and departing by the end of October. The oldest known record is from 2 May 1930 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). The highest single count of the species in one location is unfortunately of a massive tower kill at a downtown TV tower on 12 April 1961 when 280 birds perished (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994).
They are most abundant the last two weeks of September, suggesting post breeding dispersal and southernly movement. Look for them at Kingsley Plantation, Seaton Creek Historic Preserve, Hanna Park, and Theodore Roosevelt Preserve. There are no verifiable winter records of the species.