It's a small, gray songbird that's so defenseless it can't even protect its young from marauding cowbirds who devour its chicks and take over its nest.
Yet, the least bell's vireo - a shy bird found only in California's diminishing wetlands - has miraculously fought off extinction and could spark a SoCal-style face-off between developers and conservationists.
Two sightings of the bird in the San Gabriel Valley this summer have conservationists happily canceling the bird's obituary. The least bell's vireo has been on the federal endangered species list since 1986.
One bird was spotted along the San Gabriel River between Duarte and Azusa in late April. A pair - most likely a mother and baby - was found on July 15 at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local birding groups.
At both locations, ornithologists and local birders who keep detailed records of birds species in the area, say the endangered bird had not been seen in these locations in decades.
The two least bell's vireos seen at Hahamongna during several weeks in July and August could put a stop to plans by the city to build a second soccer field at the park.
More information about the Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus)