Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | August 15, 2011 @ 1:07 am

Rare Visitor In Our Hood – Thick-billed Vireo

On Saturday August 6th we were birding AD Barnes park in hopes of catching some early migration and got lucky with a few feeding flocks of warblers. We saw some beautiful Northern Parula, American Redstart, Prairie, Yellow-throated and a Black-throated Blue Warbler along with a couple of Red-eyed Vireos and many prideful Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. The morning was turning out to be a very nice early August migration day and was about to get even better.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Yellow-throated Warbler foraging, love the weird position it was in while looking for a snack..

As we arrived home we decided to take a look at the TAS Bird Board to our surprise Carlos had called Trey to let him know he had seen a POSSIBLE Thick-billed Vireo along the Matheson Service Rd. We were thrilled by the news as we have only seen one other Thick-billed Vireo before. We put together a quick lunch (not really) baked a delicious Hawaiian Style pizza and foccacia. After an awesome lunch we loaded up again and headed for Matheson Hammock in hopes of seeing the target bird.

Upon arrival we noticed the large storms that were coming in off the bay. We thought to ourselves we better find this bird quickly or we may get rained out. Walking down the trail we encountered many of the same species we had seen at Barnes earlier but we were in search of the Thick-billed. Around a bend in the trail we saw it, the pink tape that Larry Manfredi had used to mark off the area for others to find the spot with ease. We looked around and pished a bit but nothing was in view. We looked for a bit along with some other birders but were left empty-handed. For the next several days we gave it a try every morning but no luck, we heard the bird on several occasions but no views of the bird.  Several cool exotic species of lizards can be found throughout the trail which kept us busy even while not seeing the target bird.

Brown Basilisk

Puerto Rican Crested Anole













After days of trying to see this bird we were thinking along the lines of this video produced by Laura Kammermeier we wanted to see this bird so bad that we fought off swarms of mosquitoes dealt with pelting rain and lost a couple of lbs in sweat. If you know us than you know that we are determined and very patient and always feel that we will be rewarded for our persistence. As we had hoped for, our hard work paid off and we found the bird on our fourth attempt!

We were on the bird when we heard pishing in the background. Recognizing that the sound was coming from a birder we quickly walked around the bend in the trail to find, David S. He got there and pished at the exact perfect moment, we were looking at the Thick-billed Vireo just then! The bird had retreated a bit as it foraged but after a few minutes it had worked its way close to us again. At this moment, David had his eyes on the prized bird and we were enjoying extended views of this rare visitor. While observing the birds foraging behavior we noticed that a Red-eyed Vireo was always close by. As Larry, Carlos and others have pointed out; it seems as if the two birds are seen together.

Thick-billed Vireo

The Thick-billed Vireo worked the area that had been marked by Larry exclusively while we were there. When the bird finally got away from us it had been moving back north away from us and towards the trail that winds through the hammock. We walked the Hammock Trail and tried to locate the approximate area where the bird may have moved into but no luck. It was a great plan but it did not pan out. We gave it a try with the notion that the bird could be retreating into hammock as the temps rise during the day. The mosquitoes were terrible inside the trail so there went that plan 🙂 All in all incredible looks of a great bird were enjoyed by three birders and we all came out with a smile on our faces.  A great find by Carlos!

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel


  1. Where is this park located?

    • Hi Janet,

      Matheson Hammock Park is in Coral Gables at 9610 Old Cutler Road Miami, FL It is adjacent to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. The spot where the bird has been seen is across the street along the service trail on the west side of the park. Here are some directions, hope they help.

      Directions: From US 1, drive east 2.4 miles on North Kendall Drive (SW 88 Street) to Old Cutler Road. Turn right and drive south 0.6 miles to the park entrance (fee for beach area, open sunrise to sunset).

      Nature is Awesome
      Angel & Mariel


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