The Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii) is a shy little bird of shrubby habitats found in the midwest, southwest United States, and northern Mexico. With an estimated 1.5 million individuals, this vireo has declined approximately by over 60% since 1966.
While hard to find in northern Illinois, some important breeding areas can be found in Arizona at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and the San Pedro Riparian National Wildlife Area. In Texas, Big Bend National Park and the Nature Conservancy’s David Mountain Preserve also holds breeding populations.
At Camp Pendleton military base in California, approximately half the population of the subspecies Least Bell’s Vireo can be found. Accommodating military bases can be extremely important to many bird species.
- Increase acreage of riparian and shrubby habitat
- Improve riparian habitat degraded by grazing and invasive plant species
- Develop baseline inventory of breeding and wintering populations
The Upper San Pedro Partnership includes many organizations working to improve the area along the San Pedro River. Less conservation efforts have been made in the Midwest, but we feel that places in Illinois could support more Bell’s Vireo if the habitat was managed for them. This is one of the 14 birds on our Focused Bird Conservation Project
Full details on this species and 99 other North American birds at risk can be found in Jeffrey V. Wells’ Birder’s Conservation Handbook.