Bird GuideVireosYellow-green Vireo

At a Glance

This bird enters our area mainly as a rare summer visitor to southern Texas. It is a close relative of the Red-eyed Vireo, and at one time the two were considered to belong to the same species. Yellow-green Vireos nest mostly in tropical areas, from Mexico to Panama, where the climate would seem to be suitable for songbirds all year; despite this, they are strongly migratory, traveling south to the Amazon Basin for the winter.
Perching Birds, Vireos
Low Concern
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Strictly a summer resident in Mexico and Central America, arriving late in spring. A few from western Mexico apparently go the wrong direction in fall, as there are several fall records along the California coast.


6-7" (15-18 cm). Like Red-eyed Vireo but brighter yellow-green on back, bright yellow on sides and undertail coverts; bill larger, head pattern less contrasty.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Gray, Green, Red, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A series of deliberate, musical phrases, more widely spaced than in song of Red-eyed Vireo.
Call Pattern
Flat, Undulating
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Whistle


Resaca woodlands, shade trees. In Texas, a rare nesting bird, usually in native woods near oxbow lakes (resacas) or in shade trees in towns. In Mexico and Central America, breeds in many kinds of open woods, mature forest, second growth, edges of clearings. Winters in lowland tropical forest in South America.



Usually 3, sometimes 2. White, with specks of brown. Incubation is by female alone, 13-14 days.


Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest 12-14 days after hatching, but can fly only poorly at this stage.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by searching for insects among the foliage, often hovering briefly to pick insects from the undersides of leaves.


Mostly insects and spiders, some berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including tree crickets and various smooth caterpillars, also many others. Also eats many spiders. Diet includes berries and small fruits, including those of mistletoe, and some seeds, including those of the tropical shrub Clusia.


Details of the breeding behavior have not been well studied. Males sing persistently in spring and summer to defend the nesting territory. Nest: Placed 5-40' above the ground in branch of tree or shrub. Nest (built by female alone) is a neatly built open cup, with its rim woven onto a horizontal forked twig. Nest is made of grass blades, plant fibers, cobwebs, strips of papery bark, the outside often heavily decorated with spiderwebs; lined with fine plant fibers.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Apparently always has been rare in Texas. In Mexico and Central America, widespread and common, but could be vulnerable to loss of habitat.