Conservation status Fairly common, numbers apparently stable.
Family Vireos
Habitat Woods and adjacent brush; prefers oaks. Breeds in oak and pine-oak forests, preferring evergreen oaks, or in tall chaparral. Also lives in mountain canyons in sycamores, maples, and willows along streams. In Pacific states, may be found in the shrubby understory of humid Douglas-fir and redwood forests. Winters in breeding habitat, also sometimes in thickets along lowland streams.
In woods of the Pacific Coast and the Southwest, this little vireo hops about actively in the oaks. The bird bears a surprising resemblance to the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (which is often more common in the same woods in winter); it even twitches its wings in kinglet style when it is excited. Hutton's has the most monotonous song of all the vireos, a single note repeated over and over.

Feeding Behavior

Forages in trees and shrubs by hopping from twig to twig, pausing to peer about as it searches for insects. Often hovers momentarily to pick an item from the foliage.


4, sometimes 3-5, rarely fewer. White with brown specks near larger end. Incubation is by both parents, 14-16 days. Cowbirds often lay eggs in nests of this species. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 14 days of age.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 14 days of age.


Mostly insects, some berries. Diet is not known in detail, but feeds mainly on insects (including some that seem large for small size of bird) such as caterpillars, beetles, and crickets, as well as spiders. Also eats some berries and small fruits, and some plant galls.


Male sings almost constantly during breeding season to defend nesting territory. In courtship display, male approaches female, fluffs out his plumage, spreads his tail, and gives a whining call. Nest: Often in oak, sometimes in coniferous tree, usually 6-25' above the ground. Round cup-shaped nest is supported by the rim woven onto a forked twig. Nest (built by both sexes) is made of bark fibers, lichens, moss, grass, bound together with spiderwebs, lined with fine grass. Outside of nest often covered with whitish plant down and spider egg cases.

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

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Mostly a permanent resident, but a few show up in fall and winter along lowland streams where the species is not present in summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

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Songs and Calls

Loud short whistles and chatter. A monotonous 2-part phrase, either up-slurred or down-slurred: chu-whe, chu-wee or che-eer, che-eer. Call is a harsh chit-chit.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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