The Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) was listed as state endangered in 1980 and federally endangered in 1986 in response to a sharp population decline and range reduction. This vireo commonly bred in riparian forests throughout the Central Valley of California, but prior to 2005, no nesting pairs had been confirmed in the region in over 50 years. On 29 June 2005, a Least Bell's Vireo nest was located in a 3-year-old riparian restoration site at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge in Stanislaus County, California. In 2006, a Least Bell's Vireo pair returned to the refuge to successfully breed, followed by an unsuccessful attempt in 2007 by an unpaired female. These records are approximately 350 km from the nearest known breeding population and appear to be part of a growing number of sightings outside of the species' current southern California breeding range. These nesting attempts lend credence to the idea that extirpated species can recolonize restored habitat by long-distance dispersal.
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Vol. 70 • No. 1