Black-capped Vireo Life History


Habitat ScrubLow scrub, often on poor or eroded soils, or in areas at an early stage of succession.Back to top


Food InsectsAdult insects, insect larvae, and spiders.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nest Description

Open hanging cup, made of leaves, grasses, plant fiber, and animal silk, lined with fine grass.Nest often decorated with spider silk, cocoons, or bits of paper. Cup opening is narrower than nest itself; adult can sit inside nest with only bill and tail tip showing.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-5 eggs
Egg Description:Smooth and white.
Condition at Hatching:Naked and pink, with eyes closed.
Back to top


Behavior Foliage GleanerGleans from leaves, twigs, and branches. Sometimes hangs upside down or hovers while feeding.Back to top


Conservation Red Watch List

The Black-capped Vireo was federally listed as Endangered in 1987, and was delisted in 2018 after intensive conservation efforts and an increase in the population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates more than 14,000 Black-capped Vireos now live in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 24,000. The species scores a 17 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, meaning they are on the Red Watch List and are a species of high conservation concern. Major threats include habitat loss to residential development and livestock grazing; and nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds. Cowbirds lay their own eggs in the vireos' nests, forcing their hosts to raise the cowbird's young. Intensive control of cowbirds was a key tactic in recovering Black-capped Vireo numbers, and may continue to be necessary after delisting. Habitat maintenance and creation through prescribed burning and other manipulation are also helpful management actions.

Back to top


Grzybowski, Joseph A. (1995). Black-capped Vireo (Vireo atricapilla), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Back to top

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID