- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Vireonidae
In dense mangrove and hardwood forests of the Caribbean, the sweet song of the Black-whiskered Vireo is loud and clear, but its drab greenish plumage and slow movements make it hard to spot. Visually, it’s almost a twin of the widespread Red-eyed Vireo, but notice its thin, black mustache and more sharply hooked bill as it methodically hunts for insects and fruit in the canopy. This species eats more fruit than other vireos in its range.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In South Florida, look for Black-whiskered Vireos in spring and summer, specifically, in mangroves and adjacent forests of the Florida Keys. Territorial males sing almost constantly even in the heat of day, so listening for the male’s distinctive song is the best way to find one. It may take some time to find the bird as it forages or sings from dense canopy. In the Caribbean (and on South American wintering grounds) they use a wider variety of habitats.
- Vireo Bigotudo (Spanish)
- Viréo à moustaches (French)
- Cool Facts
- In much of their range, Black-whiskered Vireos occur alongside several other vireo species, but they’ve evolved ways to avoid competition for food. Other vireo species are usually smaller than Black-whiskered, forage lower down, eat less fruit and smaller insects, and are less tolerant of disturbed habitats. By occupying a unique niche—for both habitat and prey size and type—a remarkable diversity of vireo species can persist, even on small islands.
- The Black-whiskered Vireo is a common host species for the Shiny Cowbird, a brood parasite that lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. In some areas, more than half of all Black-whiskered Vireo nests contain cowbird eggs. This reduces productivity for the vireo tremendously.
- One Black-whiskered Vireo nest found in Florida was composed of carpet fibers and duck feathers and was suspended by nylon fishing line.