|Conservation status||Apparently holding steady in parts of Southwest. However, declining in the Midwest and especially in California, where it is now endangered. Habitat loss and cowbird parasitism are major threats.|
|Habitat||Willows, streamsides. Breeds in low dense growth, especially in second-growth scrub or brushy fields in Midwest, streamside thickets in Southwest, but also locally in chaparral, woodland edges, or scrub oaks. Winters in the tropics in dense low scrub, mostly near water.|
Usually forages in low brush, within 12' of ground, but occasionally will feed much higher. Searches for insects among foliage, sometimes hovering while picking items from leaves or twigs; occasionally flies out to catch insects in mid-air.
3-5, usually 4. White, usually with dots of brown or black concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by both parents (but females do more), about 14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 11-12 days after hatching, are fed by parents for at least another 3 weeks.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 11-12 days after hatching, are fed by parents for at least another 3 weeks.
Mostly insects. In breeding season, feeds almost entirely on insects, especially large ones, including caterpillars, stink bugs, wasps, bees, and weevils, also many others. Eats some spiders, and a very few berries. Winter diet unknown.
Male defends nesting territory with incessant singing. In courtship, male may chase female; members of pair often posture and display to each other during early stages of nest building. Nest site is in low shrub or sapling, usually 2-5' above the ground and placed in a fork of a horizontal twig. Nest (built by both sexes) is a small hanging cup, its rim firmly woven into fork; made of grass, weeds, plant fibers, leaves, and strips of bark, bound with spiderwebs. Inside may be padded with feathers, plant down, moss, then lined with fine grass. Spider egg cases often added to outside.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Migrates mostly at night. Arrives in Southwest in March, but does not reach northernmost nesting areas until May.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsFast, warbled tweedle-deedle-dum? tweedle-deedle-dee! First phrase up, second phrase down.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Bell's Vireo
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Bell's Vireo
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.