Bird GuideVireosPlumbeous Vireo

At a Glance

This is a common summer bird in the Rocky Mountain region, nesting in middle-elevation woodlands, often among oaks. When feeding, it works rather deliberately along branches, searching for insects. Its nest, a bulky cup suspended in the fork of a twig, is often easy to find. This bird was formerly lumped with the Blue-headed and Cassin's vireos under the name Solitary Vireo.
Perching Birds, Vireos
Low Concern
Forests and Woodlands
California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Tends to migrate early in spring and late in fall. Small numbers winter in the southwest.


5-6" (13-15 cm). Gray and white, with only a tinge of color in fresh plumage (fall). Contrasting white throat and "spectacles," two wing-bars. In faded plum-age of late summer, wing-bars less obvious, resembles Gray Vireo.
About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Gray, White
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Song a rather slow series of burry phrases, slower and rougher than that of Cassin's Vireo. Call a husky chatter.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat, Undulating
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Whistle


Coniferous and mixed conifer-deciduous woods. Breeds in rather open woods, mainly in habitats dominated by ponderosa pine, but also where ponderosa is mixed with junipers or pinyon pines. May be especially common in areas with understory of oak. Migrants occur in any kind of woodland.



3-5, usually 4. Whitish, lightly spotted with brown and black. Incubation is by both parents, about 12-14 days. In some areas, nests are often parasitized by cowbirds.


Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Feeding Behavior

Forages rather deliberately in upper part of trees, searching for insects along branches and twigs as well as among leaves. Sometimes searches for items on bark of major limbs.


Mostly insects. In summer feeds almost entirely on insects, including caterpillars, true bugs, beetles, wasps, bees, and many others; also spiders. Also eats some berries and small fruits, especially in winter.


Male sings frequently throughout the day to defend nesting territory. In courtship display, male may fluff up plumage and sway his body from side to side while singing. Nest: Placed in horizontal fork of branch in tree, often quite low (6-12' above the ground), can be much higher. Nest (built by both sexes) is a rather bulky open cup, suspended by its rim. Nest is made of grass, strips of bark, weeds, plant fibers, rootlets, lined with plant down and rootlets. Outside of nest may be decorated with moss or lichens.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Still widespread and common, but surveys indicate overall declines in population.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Plumbeous Vireo. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Plumbeous 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.