The Red-eyed Vireo is a small bird, olive-green above and pale yellow and white below. It has no wing-bars. It has a rather flat head with a blue-gray crown, bordered below by three stripes: black, white, and black, with the lowest stripe passing through the eye. Although adults have bright red eyes, the color of the eyes is often difficult to detect in the field. The eyes of juveniles are brown, a color that may persist through the first winter.
Red-eyed Vireos can be difficult to see because they forage high in the canopy, where they pick food from the undersides of foliage, hopping about or hovering in the leaves. During courtship and nesting seasons, their prominent, repeated calls readily reveal their presence.
Throughout the eastern United States, Red-eyed Vireos are common in deciduous woodlands. But also to stream and lakeside woodlands and cottonwood stands.
Brown-headed Cowbirds, a parasitic species, frequently lay their eggs in the nests of Red-eyed Vireos. The clearing of eastern forests and those on their wintering grounds in South America has most likely caused some population decline, but the current number in North America appears stable. In Washington, according to the Breeding Bird Survey, Red-eyed Vireos have experienced a significant decline between 1966 and 2000. This decline has most likely resulted from both Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism and the degradation and loss of streamside habitat.
Regular vagrant to Europe, mostly one year juveniles.
In summer, Red-eyed Vireos feed mostly on adult insects and larvae, especially caterpillars. In late summer and on their wintering grounds, they also eat berries.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 12,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 140,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Like other vireos, Red-eyed Vireos are monogamous. Unlike other Washington vireos, female Red-eyed Vireos build their nests and incubate without assistance from the males. The nest is made of bark, grass, needles, and twigs, lined with soft plant fiber and other material. It is covered on the outside with wasp nest paper and spider webbing. It is a typical vireo nest, suspended by its rim from a horizontally forked twig or the corner of a tree trunk and two radiating branches. Clutch size is typically three to four eggs, and incubation lasts for 11 to 14 days. Both the male and female feed the young for the 10 to 12 days they are in the nest. The female, and perhaps the male, continue to feed the young for up to two weeks after they leave the nest.
North American populations migratory, South American populations apparently resident, except southernmost which withdraw northward. All populations winter in South America, south chiefly to Amazonia. Migrants begin to leave breeding areas before mid-August, and earliest birds appear in Central America and West Indies before end of August. Main movement September through northern and mid-latitude states. Northward migration starts early, with movement through Central America and from Texas to Georgia during March. Main passage into north-east breeding areas early to mid-May. Vagrant to Greenland. Rare autumn vagrant to west Palearctic, appearing with some regularity in Britain and Ireland, where 89 records up to 1995, especially south-west England and southern Ireland, mainly late September to 3rd week of October.
- spanwidth min.: 23 cm
- spanwidth max.: 25 cm
- size min.: 12 cm
- size max.: 13 cm
- incubation min.: 11 days
- incubation max.: 14 days
- fledging min.: 10 days
- fledging max.: 12 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 3
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status
- Vireo olivaceus chivi
- Vireo olivaceus diversus
- Vireo olivaceus agilis
- Vireo olivaceus tobagensis
- Vireo olivaceus vividior
- Vireo olivaceus solimoensis
- Vireo olivaceus pectoralis
- Vireo olivaceus griseobarbatus
- Vireo olivaceus caucae
- Vireo olivaceus olivaceus
- Vireo olivaceus
- NA, LA Canada through Amazonia