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Gray Vireo


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, drab bird of desert scrub, the Gray Vireo shows only faint traces of the typical vireo spectacles and wingbars. Its dull gray plumage, however, fits in well with other dull gray birds that share its habitat, including gnatcatchers, Bushtit, Juniper Titmouse, and Lucy's Warbler.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.1–5.9 in
13–15 cm
8.3 in
21 cm
0.4–0.5 oz
12–15 g
Other Names
  • Viréo gris (French)
  • Vireo gris (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Gray Vireos wintering in western Texas feed predominantly on insects. In southwestern Arizona and adjacent Sonora, Mexico, however, wintering birds shift from a largely insectivorous summer diet to one of predominantely fruits.
  • 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.



Found in desert scrub, mixed juniper or pinyon pine and oak scrub associations, and chaparral, in hot, arid mountains and high plains scrubland.



Arthropods, some fruits.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–4 eggs
Egg Description
White with variable amount of small spots.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and pink, with eyes closed.
Nest Description

Open hanging cup of loosely to tightly woven grasses, mesquite or soft juniper bark, plant fiber, spider webs, and cocoons. Lined with fine grass, long vegetable fibers, hair, and cottony thistle down. Sometimes decorated with whole sagebrush or other leaves.

Nest Placement



Foliage Gleaner

Gleans from leaves, twigs, and branches. Sometimes hovers while feeding or takes prey in flight. Drops to ground to capture insects.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Gray Vireo populations are small and of low abundance, but appeared stable or slightly increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 400,000 with 98% spending some part of the year in the U.S., and 76% in Mexico. They rate a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Despite evidence of stable populations, Gray Vireo is still listed on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.


Range Map Help

Gray Vireo Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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