- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Vireonidae
Gray Vireos are lively residents of the punishingly hot deserts of the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico. Gray above, whitish below, this species blends in well with the grays and greens of its surroundings. Male Gray Vireos sing steadily during the breeding season, but the birds spend much of the rest of their time foraging for insects in dense brush, often close to the ground. They swing nimbly among the fine, often thorny branches and have a habit of flicking the tail frequently.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Gray Vireos sing incessantly on early spring mornings—an optimal time to look for them in terms of both being successful and staying cool. Look for males singing from perches high in juniper or small oaks, but note that they also sing while foraging. Making pishing or squeaking sounds can help to draw them into view. During the heat of the day, they often rest quietly in shady thickets. Be sure to bring plenty of water for Gray Vireo searches!
- Vireo gris (Spanish)
- Viréo gris (French)
- Cool Facts
- The first Gray Vireo known to science was collected May 24, 1865, at what is now Prescott, Arizona (known at the time as Fort Whipple, Arizona Territory). Elliott Coues gave the new species the name Gray Greenlet.
- The Gray Vireo’s scientific name (vicinior) means “neighboring,” a reference to this species’ similarity to other gray-and-white birds in its habitat such as the Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Lucy’s Warbler, and Verdin.
- Compared with other vireos of the West, Gray Vireo usually inhabits lower elevations than Plumbeous and Hutton’s but slightly higher elevations than Bell’s Vireo.
- Gray Vireos wintering in western Texas feed on insects but in southwestern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico, they eat mainly fruits in winter.
- Although the Gray Vireo catches most of its insect food along the branches of trees and shrubs, it captures more insects on the ground than most vireos. It has been seen to scratch on the ground with its feet like a foraging towhee.