Yellow-green VireoVireo flavoviridis

adult
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
adult
Peter LaTourrette/VIREO

Family

Description

This bird enters our area mainly as a rare summer visitor to southern Texas. It is a close relative of the Red-eyed Vireo, and at one time the two were considered to belong to the same species. Yellow-green Vireos nest mostly in tropical areas, from Mexico to Panama, where the climate would seem to be suitable for songbirds all year; despite this, they are strongly migratory, traveling south to the Amazon Basin for the winter.

Habitat

Resaca woodlands, shade trees. In Texas, a rare nesting bird, usually in native woods near oxbow lakes (resacas) or in shade trees in towns. In Mexico and Central America, breeds in many kinds of open woods, mature forest, second growth, edges of clearings. Winters in lowland tropical forest in South America.

Feeding Diet

Mostly insects and spiders, some berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including tree crickets and various smooth caterpillars, also many others. Also eats many spiders. Diet includes berries and small fruits, including those of mistletoe, and some seeds, including those of the tropical shrub Clusia.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by searching for insects among the foliage, often hovering briefly to pick insects from the undersides of leaves.

Nesting

Details of the breeding behavior have not been well studied. Males sing persistently in spring and summer to defend the nesting territory. Nest: Placed 5-40' above the ground in branch of tree or shrub. Nest (built by female alone) is a neatly built open cup, with its rim woven onto a horizontal forked twig. Nest is made of grass blades, plant fibers, cobwebs, strips of papery bark, the outside often heavily decorated with spiderwebs; lined with fine plant fibers. Eggs: Usually 3, sometimes 2. White, with specks of brown. Incubation is by female alone, 13-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest 12-14 days after hatching, but can fly only poorly at this stage.

Eggs

Usually 3, sometimes 2. White, with specks of brown. Incubation is by female alone, 13-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest 12-14 days after hatching, but can fly only poorly at this stage.

Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest 12-14 days after hatching, but can fly only poorly at this stage.

Conservation

Apparently always has been rare in Texas. In Mexico and Central America, widespread and common, but could be vulnerable to loss of habitat.

Range

Strictly a summer resident in Mexico and Central America, arriving late in spring. A few from western Mexico apparently go the wrong direction in fall, as there are several fall records along the California coast.

Similar Species

adult

Swainson's Warbler

A shy denizen of southern canebrakes, Swainson's Warbler is more often heard than seen. It spends most of its time on or near the ground in dense cover, walking about in search of insects. Quite plain in appearance, and with a relatively heavy bill, it does not suggest a warbler when it is glimpsed foraging in the undergrowth; however, it may be recognized by its rich musical song, audible from some distance away.

adult male, breeding

Tennessee Warbler

This bird is found in Tennessee only briefly, during spring and fall migration; but there is no point in giving it a more descriptive name, because the bird itself is nondescript. The male makes up for his plain appearance with a strident staccato song, surprisingly loud for the size of the bird. Nesting in northern forests, the Tennessee Warbler goes through population cycles: it often becomes very numerous during population explosions of the spruce budworm, a favored food.

adult

Black-whiskered Vireo

Found almost throughout the West Indies in summer, this is the Caribbean replacement for our common Red-eyed Vireo. In our area, Black-whiskered Vireos are summer residents mainly in southern Florida. There they can be heard singing constantly in the coastal mangrove tangles on hot days in May. Natives of the Caribbean know this bird well by voice, often giving it nicknames that suggest the short emphatic phrases of the song, such as "John-Philip" or "Whip-Tom-Kelly."

adult

Warbling Vireo

Rather plain, but with a cheery warbled song, the Warbling Vireo is a common summer bird in leafy groves and open woods from coast to coast. Because it avoids solid tracts of mature, unbroken forest, it is probably more common and widespread today than it was when the Pilgrims landed. Some scientists believe that eastern and western Warbling Vireos may represent two different species; if that is true, then the two are very difficult to tell apart in the wild.

adult

Red-eyed Vireo

One of the most numerous summer birds in eastern woods. It is not the most often seen, because it tends to stay out of sight in the leafy treetops, searching methodically among the foliage for insects. However, its song -- a series of short, monotonous phrases, as if it were endlessly asking and answering the same question -- can be heard constantly during the nesting season, even on hot summer afternoons.

adult

Philadelphia Vireo

This bird of the treetops is rather uncommon and often overlooked, or passed off as another vireo. It looks somewhat like a Warbling Vireo, and its song of short phrases sounds much like that of a Red-eyed Vireo. In some places where it overlaps with the Red-eye, the two species will even defend territories against each other. Despite its name, this vireo is only an uncommon migrant around Philadelphia, and does not nest in that region.

Vireo

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