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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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.
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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.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia 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.

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