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Sightings of endangered least Bell's vireos in Playa Vista area hearten bird lovers

July 6, 2010 |  6:17 pm

Least Bell's vireo

A tiny, plain-looking bird is big news in the Southern California neighborhood of Playa Vista.

Four adult least Bell's vireos -- an endangered species -- have been spotted by wildlife biologists and amateur birders in the Playa Vista area. That's an exciting development because the species hadn't been sighted in the area in decades before the recent discovery of two nests. One nest holds four eggs, and at least one hungry hatchling has been spotted in the other.

"I first heard [a male least Bell's vireo] singing, giving a full song" in April, consulting biologist Dan Cooper said. "I heard other calls with it -- the contact call of the female, which I hadn't heard in a long time." Male vireos have a distinctive song; females call and chirp.

According to Patti Sinclair, co-president of the Playa Vista development, the discovery of the nesting vireos offers some vindication to the developer, who took some heat from locals over the decision to remove some non-native plants and install a freshwater marsh in the area. "It means what we've been trying to do has succeeded," Sinclair said.

Learn more about Playa Vista's least Bell's vireos in reporter Martha Groves' recent story in The Times.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A least Bell's vireo. Credit: Don Sterba

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