Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Plumbeous Vireo

Vireo plumbeus

This is a common summer bird in the Rocky Mountain region, nesting in middle-elevation woodlands, often among oaks. When feeding, it works rather deliberately along branches, searching for insects. Its nest, a bulky cup suspended in the fork of a twig, is often easy to find. This bird was formerly lumped with the Blue-headed and Cassin's vireos under the name Solitary Vireo.
Conservation status Still widespread and common, but surveys indicate overall declines in population.
Family Vireos
Habitat Coniferous and mixed conifer-deciduous woods. Breeds in rather open woods, mainly in habitats dominated by ponderosa pine, but also where ponderosa is mixed with junipers or pinyon pines. May be especially common in areas with understory of oak. Migrants occur in any kind of woodland.
This is a common summer bird in the Rocky Mountain region, nesting in middle-elevation woodlands, often among oaks. When feeding, it works rather deliberately along branches, searching for insects. Its nest, a bulky cup suspended in the fork of a twig, is often easy to find. This bird was formerly lumped with the Blue-headed and Cassin's vireos under the name Solitary Vireo.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • juvenile
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages rather deliberately in upper part of trees, searching for insects along branches and twigs as well as among leaves. Sometimes searches for items on bark of major limbs.


Eggs

3-5, usually 4. Whitish, lightly spotted with brown and black. Incubation is by both parents, about 12-14 days. In some areas, nests are often parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Diet

Mostly insects. In summer feeds almost entirely on insects, including caterpillars, true bugs, beetles, wasps, bees, and many others; also spiders. Also eats some berries and small fruits, especially in winter.


Nesting

Male sings frequently throughout the day to defend nesting territory. In courtship display, male may fluff up plumage and sway his body from side to side while singing. Nest: Placed in horizontal fork of branch in tree, often quite low (6-12' above the ground), can be much higher. Nest (built by both sexes) is a rather bulky open cup, suspended by its rim. Nest is made of grass, strips of bark, weeds, plant fibers, rootlets, lined with plant down and rootlets. Outside of nest may be decorated with moss or lichens.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Tends to migrate early in spring and late in fall. Small numbers winter in the southwest.

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Migration

Tends to migrate early in spring and late in fall. Small numbers winter in the southwest.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song a rather slow series of burry phrases, slower and rougher than that of Cassin's Vireo. Call a husky chatter.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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