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Warbling Vireo

Vireo gilvus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: VIREONIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The rich song of the Warbling Vireo is a common sound in many parts of central and northern North America during summer. It’s a great bird to learn by ear, because its fast, rollicking song is its most distinctive feature. Otherwise, Warbling Vireos are fairly plain birds with gray-olive upperparts and white underparts washed with faint yellow. They have a mild face pattern with a whitish stripe over the eye. They stay high in deciduous treetops, where they move methodically among the leaves hunting for caterpillars.

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Songs

Male Warbling Vireos sing a rapid, undulating, highly variable song with a rich, burbling quality lasting about 3 seconds. The song usually concludes with an accented note pitched higher than the preceding melody. Males sometimes sing from the nest.

Calls

Warbling Vireos use many calls, particularly a raspy, descending scold call as well as a low spitting note. Female have a courtship call that they sometimes give in a loose duet with the male.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

In the eastern part of their breeding range, you can likely find Warbling Vireos in almost any sizable deciduous woodland. They are fairly drab and tend to stay high in trees, so find them by listening for their loud, caroling song. Because of their habitually slow foraging speed, you can often track down the singer fairly easily. In the West, particularly in mountains where coniferous trees are common, Warbling Vireos are harder to find. Look for them in aspen forests and in woodland (often cottonwood) along streams, where they are a common breeder. Again, you will find them most readily by listening for their distinctive song.