Photo: Rob Curtis/Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Vireo philadelphicus

This bird of the treetops is rather uncommon and often overlooked, or passed off as another vireo. It looks somewhat like a Warbling Vireo, and its song of short phrases sounds much like that of a Red-eyed Vireo. In some places where it overlaps with the Red-eye, the two species will even defend territories against each other. Despite its name, this vireo is only an uncommon migrant around Philadelphia, and does not nest in that region.
Conservation status Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat, especially on wintering grounds. Current populations seem stable.
Family Vireos
Habitat Second growth; poplars, willows, alders. Breeds in deciduous and mixed woodlands, especially near their edges, or in the young growth of overgrown pastures. Also nests in willows and alders along streams, lakes, and ponds. In winter in the tropics, often in fairly dry forest in lowlands and foothills.
This bird of the treetops is rather uncommon and often overlooked, or passed off as another vireo. It looks somewhat like a Warbling Vireo, and its song of short phrases sounds much like that of a Red-eyed Vireo. In some places where it overlaps with the Red-eye, the two species will even defend territories against each other. Despite its name, this vireo is only an uncommon migrant around Philadelphia, and does not nest in that region.
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  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly in deciduous trees and shrubs, moving about actively as it searches for insects. Often hovers to take items from foliage, or hangs upside down at the tips of twigs to take insects from underside. Sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3-5. White with brown or black spots near large end. Incubation is by both parents, about 14 days. Young: Nestlings are fed by both parents. The young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching.


Young

Nestlings are fed by both parents. The young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching.

Diet

Mostly insects, some berries. Feeds mostly on insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetles, wasps, bees, ants, ichneumons, true bugs, and many others; also some spiders. Eats many berries in late summer and fall, including those of bayberry and dogwood.


Nesting

Male sings to defend nesting territory. In courtship display, male faces female and sways from side to side, fluffing plumage and spreading tail; both members of pair vibrate wings rapidly. Nest site is 10-90' above the ground in deciduous tree such as aspen, willow, alder, or maple. Nest is a compact, basket-like cup, its rim woven onto a horizontal forked twig. Nest (built by both sexes) made of grass, strips of birch bark, lichen, weeds, spiderwebs, and cocoons, lined with pine needles, grass, and feathers.

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

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

Migration

Migrates mostly at night. In spring, most fly north across the Gulf of Mexico and then spread out as they continue northward. Along the Atlantic Coast, more likely to be seen in fall than in spring.

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Migration

Migrates mostly at night. In spring, most fly north across the Gulf of Mexico and then spread out as they continue northward. Along the Atlantic Coast, more likely to be seen in fall than in spring.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Like the Red-eyed Vireo but higher and slower, See-me? Here-I-am! Up-here. See-me?
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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

Philadelphia 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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