Red-eyed VireoVireo olivaceus

adult
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
adult
Brian E. Small/VIREO
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Family

Description

5 1/2 -6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Olive green above, whitish below, with a narrow white eyebrow bordered above with black. Gray crown; red eye (eye dark in immature); no wing bars. Warbling Vireo similar, but lacks gray crown and black border over bold white eyebrow.

Voice

A series of short, musical, robin-like phrases endlessly repeated; like that of Blue-headed Vireo but faster and not so musical.

Listen

song #1
tchway call #1
song #2
fast song

Habitat

Broad-leaved forests; shade trees in residential areas.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia, Ontario, and Gulf of Saint Lawrence south to Oregon, Colorado, Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters in tropics.

Discussion

This vireo has been one of the most abundant birds in North America, although its numbers seem to have declined recently, possibly as a result of the destruction of wintering habitat in the neotropics, fragmentation of northern breeding forests, or other causes. Its principal habitat, broad-leaved forests, often supports one pair per acre. A persistent singer during the breeding season, the Red-eyed Vireo utters its endless series of short phrases from dawn till dusk, even on the hottest days when other birds are silent, and may even sing while grappling with the large insects it captures. The Red-eyed Vireo is a fierce fighter around its nest and can intimidate even the large Pileated Woodpecker. Its horizontal posture and slow movement through the understory of broad-leaved woods make it an easy bird to study.

Nesting

3 or 4 white eggs, sparsely marked with dark brown, in a thin-walled pendant cup of bark strips and plant fibers, decorated with lichen and attached to a forked twig.

Similar Species

adult

Swainson's Warbler

5" (13 cm). A plain warbler, olive-brown above and whitish beneath, with rufous cap and whitish line over eye.

adult male, breeding

Tennessee Warbler

5" (13 cm). In spring, male greenish above, white below, with gray cap, white line over eye, dusky line through eye. In fall, olive above, yellowish below.

adult

Black-whiskered Vireo

5 1/2" (14 cm). Similar to the Red-eyed Vireo (olive green above, white below), but with a dusky streak below the eye that gives bird its name.

adult

Yellow-green Vireo

6-7" (15-18 cm). Sparrow-sized. Olive-green above, paler below, with yellowish tinge on back, flanks, and undertail coverts; dull gray crown; whitish eyebrow. Eye red.

adult

Warbling Vireo

5-6" (13-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Similar to Red-eyed Vireo: olive-green above, whitish below, with no wing bars-but lacks bold face pattern, having only a narrow white eyebrow.

adult

Philadelphia Vireo

6" (15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Olive above, yellowish below, with pale eyebrow, dark line through eye to base of bill, and no wing bars.

Vireo

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