Conservation status Over the last century, apparently has declined in the Northeast, increased in parts of the upper Midwest. Overall numbers probably stable at present.
Family Vireos
Habitat Deciduous woodlands, shade trees. Breeds in tall trees in open deciduous woods. Prefers trees such as oaks and maples along streams, lakes, and roadsides. Also will summer in tall trees or orchards in towns. Avoids areas with dense undergrowth. Generally absent in mixed or coniferous forest, where it is probably replaced by the Solitary Vireo. Winters in tropical lowlands and foothills, in habitats ranging from rain forest to dry scrub.
In leafy eastern forests, especially among the tall oaks, the slow, husky phrases of the Yellow-throated Vireo can be heard in spring and summer. More colorful than most vireos, it is not any easier to see, usually remaining out of sight in the foliage. However, the male sings throughout the breeding season, as late as August and September.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by searching for insects rather methodically along the twigs and in foliage high in trees. In winter, defends feeding territory and will drive away others of its own kind, but will associate with mixed foraging flocks of other birds.


4, sometimes 3-5. Pinkish or creamy white with heavy spots of brown or lavender near large end. Incubation is by both parents, 14-15 days. Frequently parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest 14-15 days after hatching. The parents divide the fledglings, each adult caring for part of the brood.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest 14-15 days after hatching. The parents divide the fledglings, each adult caring for part of the brood.


Mostly insects, some berries. Feeds mainly on insects. In summer, over one-third of diet may be caterpillars, moths, and butterflies; also eats true bugs, scale insects, aphids, leafhoppers, beetles, sawflies, tree crickets, dragonflies, cicadas, and others. Will also eat various berries, especially in fall.


Male defends nesting territory by singing incessantly. In courtship, male leads female to potential nest sites. Nest: Placed in tree (usually deciduous), generally 20-40' above the ground but can be 3-60' up. Both sexes help build open thick-walled cup nest, supported by the rim woven onto a horizontal forked twig. Nest made of weeds, shreds of bark, grass, leaves, and plant fibers. Outside of nest bound with spiderwebs and camouflaged with lichens and mosses; lined with fine grass and pine needles.

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

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Migrates mostly at night. A rather early spring migrant in the South, often appearing in late March.

  • 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.

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Songs and Calls

Similar to song of Red-eyed and Solitary vireos, but lower in pitch and with a husky or burry quality to the phrases.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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