Vivacious Vireos

In northern Illinois we have seven regularly occurring species of vireos. In the U.S. there are 14. Each of these vocal vixens are often heard more than seen as they sluggishly skulk in the shrubbery. Problem is, their sounds are often similar, so identifying them can be a bit tricky.

White-eyed Vireos might hide a lot but their sound is always a joy to hear
White-eyed Vireo

From the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America:

Gray Vireo song: “short whistled phrases with burry sound, similar to Plumbeous Vireo’s song”
Plumbeous Vireo song: “short whistled phrashes with burry quality, much like Cassin’s Vireo”
Cassin’s Vireo song: “like Blue-headed Vireo’s but with burry sound”
Blue-headed Vireo song: “Like Red-eyed Vireo’s but higher-pitched”

So, a Gray Vireo sings a short-whistled, high-pitched, burry, Red-eyed Vireo song. That simplifies things!

Red-eyed Vireo posing out on an open branch
Red-eyed Vireo {Vireo olivaceus}

In our area we have three distinct sounding vireos, Bell’s, White-eyed, and Warbling. We’ve somewhat mastered the Yellow-throated song, so all that remains are Blue-headed, Philadelphia, and the always present Red-eyed.

But despite their similarities, vireos are wonderful birds to have around, even if they may not be as colorful (debatable) or active as the wood-warblers.

Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo

3 thoughts on “Vivacious Vireos

  1. Daniel – thanks!! Vireos are so noisy yet often hard to “get”

    Lana – It seems to be the birds are intrigued by the sound of the camera shutter.

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