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Red-eyed Vireo

Vireo olivaceus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: VIREONIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A tireless songster, the Red-eyed Vireo is one of the most common summer residents of Eastern forests. These neat, olive-green and white songbirds have a crisp head pattern of gray, black, and white. Their brief but incessant songs—sometimes more than 20,000 per day by a single male—contribute to the characteristic sound of an Eastern forest in summer. When fall arrives, they head for the Amazon basin, fueled by a summer of plucking caterpillars from leaves in the treetops.

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Songs

Song a broken series of slurred notes. Each phrase usually ends in either a downslur or an upswing, as if the bird asks a question, then answers it, over and over.

Calls

A loud, catbird-like myaah call punctuates many social interactions. Both sexes use it to emphasize warning displays toward potential predators or interlopers. Females incubating eggs may use the same call to attract the male, as well as a tchet, tchet, tchet call to solicit food from him. Males use a second tsherrrr call during fights and territorial displays.

Other Sounds

Males and females sometimes snap their bills in flight as they swoop at intruders and predators.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Red-eyed Vireos are very common in Eastern forests during summer. They can be hard to see in the treetops, particularly after the trees leaf out, but this is one bird that really highlights the value of learning bird songs. Their short, rising-and-falling song is fairly easy to recognize and the birds give it almost all day long, including during the mid-afternoon doldrums when few other species are singing. Learning this song helps in two ways: it makes it easier to find the species, and it gives you a familiar song against which to compare other songs and perhaps find additional species. On migration, look for the species in nearly any patch of trees. On the species’ South American winter range, it retains its fondness for forest canopy and trees with large leaves.