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.

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.


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.


Nestlings are fed by both parents. The young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching.


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.


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.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

Learn more

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.
Learn more about this sound collection.