Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

White-eyed Vireo

Vireo griseus

Length: 5 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Rare Migrant
ID Keys: White eyes with yellow "spectacles", two white wing-bars, olive-gray upperparts, lighter gray below.

White-eyed Vireo - Vireo griseusThe White-eyed Vireo is a bird of dense undergrowth and shrubby areas of the eastern United States.  Their songs can be wildly variable, having been described as "quick-with-the-beer-check!", "chick-of-the-village", and "pick-up-a-reaaaal-chick!".  They also will occasionally mimic the songs of other birds.  Their range has varied wildly over the course of recorded history in the eastern United States.  For many years, they bred in Michigan and Wisconsin, but now generally remain south of those states.  They were once fairly common in Massachusetts, disappeared for a period of time, and then reappeared.

Habitat: Uses a variety of shrubby low growth for breeding, including, forest edges, woodland undergrowth, overgrown pastures, and shrubby streamsides.  They also prefer shrubby habitats during migration and in winter.

Diet: During summer months, they feed almost exclusively on insects, especially caterpillars, moths, and butterflies.  They also will eat fruits, berries, snails, and small lizards and salamanders.

Behavior: Climbs and flits through foliage and branches, gleaning insects as it moves. Will sometimes hover and glean insects from foliage.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.

Song: Variable jumbled song, often ending with sharp notes.  Click here to listen to the White-eyed Vireo's song.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the eastern United States, as far north as Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Winters in the extreme southeastern U.S. and Mexico. 

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of White-eyed Vireo sightings

Similar Species: Bell's Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo

Conservation Status: Populations can fluctuate wildly at the northern end of their range, as there have been intermittent periods where they summer quite a bit further north than their current range.  However, overall, populations appear to be on the increase. They are common in parts of their range, and they are found over a broad geographic area. The IUCN considers the White-eyed Vireo to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, White-eyed Vireo

2) WhatBird - White-eyed Vireo

3) Audubon Guide - White-eyed Vireo

Photo Information: Photo taken near Aberdeen by Dan Tallman


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
White-eyed Vireo - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant.

Additional White-eyed Vireo Photos (coming soon!)