|Conservation status||Population status not well known, but probably stable.|
|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.|
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.
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.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest 13-14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.
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.
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.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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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
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSong 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.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Gray 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 Gray 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.