The Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) is a small North American songbird. Its breeding habitat is open deciduous and mixed woods from Alaska to Mexico and the Florida Panhandle. It often nests along streams. It migrates to Mexico and Central America. [Wikipedia]
The rich song of the Warbling Vireo is a common sound in many parts of central and northern North America during summer. It’s a great bird to learn by ear because its fast, rollicking song is its most distinctive feature. Otherwise, Warbling Vireos are fairly plain birds with gray-olive upperparts, and white underparts washed with faint yellow. They have a mild face pattern with a whitish stripe over the eye. They stay high in deciduous treetops, where they move methodically among the leaves hunting for caterpillars. [All About Birds]
Warbling Vireo Facts [All About Birds]
- Warbling Vireos have a good name—the males sing a fast, up-and-down, rollicking song that suits the word “warbling.” The early twentieth-century ornithologist William Dawson described the song this way: “fresh as apples and as sweet as apple blossoms come that dear, homely song from the willows.” The highly variable song usually ends on a high note, leading the birder Pete Dunne to describe it as sounding “like a happy drunk making a conversational point at a party.”
- Across their wide range, Warbling Vireos differ from one population to another in several characteristics, including overall size, bill shape, plumage coloring, molt patterns, wintering areas, and vocalizations. The differences are significant enough to lead ornithologists to recognize six separate subspecies of Warbling Vireo, and at one time divided them into two species.
- Researchers speculate that Warbling Vireo song is at least partially learned rather than hard-wired. They base this supposition in part on observations of one individual whose song more closely resembled that of a Red-eyed Vireo than that of its parents. The garbled song, they concluded, probably resulted from a flawed learning process during the bird’s development.
- The longest-lived Warbling Vireo on record—a male that was originally banded in July 1966—was at least 13 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in California.