- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Vireonidae
The slight, almost dainty Philadelphia Vireo is fairly common in dense young woodlands of Canada’s boreal summertime. Smaller, shorter-billed, and less aggressive than a Red-eyed Vireo, this olive-brown bird moves methodically through upper reaches of young trees searching for caterpillars. Although similar to the widespread Warbling Vireo, it’s usually yellower below with a bolder head pattern. The song is a rising-and-falling series of short whistles, quite different from Warbling but very similar to Red-eyed, making this species both a challenge and a prize to find during migration.More ID Info
Find This Bird
For many birdwatchers Philadelphia Vireos are a treat to be found during migration. In spring, they are later migrants, appearing high in canopies largely in May. At migration hotspots such as Crane Creek, Ohio; Point Pelee, Ontario; or along the western Gulf Coast, recently arrived birds often feed lower in vegetation. Listen closely and search out any “funny-sounding” (slow-singing) vireo. In autumn, Philadelphias join mixed flocks and eat fruit at forest edges and second growth (just watch out for dull Red-eyed and bright Warbling Vireos).
- Vireo de Filadelfia (Spanish)
- Viréo de Philadelphie (French)
- Cool Facts
- Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireos sing very similar songs, with Red-eyed's usually sounding simpler and faster. As if to make matters more confusing, where these two species overlap on the nesting grounds, the Philadelphia Vireo may sing perfect imitations of Red-eyed song. These imitations, scientists speculate, might help the smaller Philadelphia to avoid aggression by the larger, heavier Red-eyed Vireo.
- Philadelphia Vireo was named in 1851 by American ornithologist John Cassin, who described the species based on a specimen of a migrant in Philadelphia. A local name for the species in that city was once “Brotherly-love Vireo.”
- The oldest recorded Philadelphia Vireo was at least 8 years, 10 months old when it was found in Guatemala in 1970. It had been banded in Ontario in 1962.