Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Gray Vireo

Vireo vicinior

Few birds are as plain as the Gray Vireo, a drab summer resident of juniper woods and open brush in the Great Basin region. What it lacks in color, however, it makes up for with personality, hopping around actively in the scrub, singing, and flopping its tail about. Sometimes the bird seems unafraid, coming quite close to birders who stand still in its habitat.
Conservation status Population status not well known, but probably stable.
Family Vireos
Habitat Brushy mountain slopes, mesas, open chaparral, scrub oak, junipers. Breeds in dry thorn scrub, chaparral, pinyon-juniper and oak-juniper scrub, or sagebrush and mesquites of arid foothills and mesas, between 3,000-6,500' elevation. In winter, in northwest Mexico, found near coast in dry thorn scrub of elephant trees and giant cacti.
Few birds are as plain as the Gray Vireo, a drab summer resident of juniper woods and open brush in the Great Basin region. What it lacks in color, however, it makes up for with personality, hopping around actively in the scrub, singing, and flopping its tail about. Sometimes the bird seems unafraid, coming quite close to birders who stand still in its habitat.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Usually forages within 5' of the ground, moving about actively in brush on dry slopes. Also does some foraging on the ground. In winter, individuals defend feeding territories, driving away others of their own kind.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3-5. Pinkish-white with brown specks scattered near large end. Incubation is by both parents, 13-14 days. Cowbirds frequently lay eggs in nests of this species. Gray Vireos will sometimes deal with such parasitism by constructing second floor of nest over cowbird eggs. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest 13-14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest 13-14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Diet

Insects and fruits. During the breeding season, feeds mostly on insects, including beetles, caterpillars, small moths, bugs, treehoppers, tree crickets, dobsonflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, and many others. In winter, eats many berries, especially those of elephant trees, in addition to insects.


Nesting

Male defends nesting territory by singing through much of breeding season. Nest: Placed in shrub, frequently oak or juniper, 1-12' from ground, but most commonly 2-8' up. Nest is supported by the rim woven onto a horizontal forked twig. Nest (built by both sexes) is a deep, rounded cup made of weeds, shreds of bark, grass stems, leaves, and plant fibers; bound with spiderwebs, and lined with fine grass.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

A short-distance migrant, wintering in northwestern Mexico.

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Migration

A short-distance migrant, wintering in northwestern Mexico.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song is a series of 4-6 phrases with a pause between each phrase and a much longer pause between stanzas: cheerio . . . che-whew . . . chireep? . . . cheerio.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Vireos Perching Birds

Gray Vireo

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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