South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Blue-headed Vireo

Vireo solitarius

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8.5 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: White "spectacles", two white wing-bars, bluish-gray head, white throat and undersides, olive-green  back.

Blue-headed Vireo - Vireo solitarius The Blue-headed Vireo, the Cassin's Vireo, and the Plumbeous Vireo were all considered one species, the Solitary Vireo, until the 1990's.  The Blue-headed is the eastern component of the three, migrating throughout the eastern half of the United States to it's summer destinations in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.  A race summering in the Appalachians is larger and differs slightly in plumage. 

Habitat: Uses open mixed forests during the summer breeding season.  Also found in open forests and woodlands during migration and in winter.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects and spiders.  They will also consume fruits and berries, especially during the winter months.

Behavior: Primarily forages in the upper portion of trees.  They will sometimes observe from a perch and flycatch, flying out to catch passing insects, or clamber along major branches and tree trunks in search of prey.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota. In breeding range, the nest is a cup made of grasses, weeds, roots, and moss, lined with downy plant material or animal hair.  The female lays 3 to 5 egggs, which are incubated by both parents.  Upon hatching, both parents tend to the young, who leave the nest after about 2 weeks.

Song: Slow deliberate phrases with pauses in between.  Click here to listen to the Blue-headed Vireo's song.

Migration: Summers in central through southeastern Canada, the Great Lakes Region, New England, and southward through the Appalachians.  Winters near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the Southeastern United States, as well as Mexico and Central America. 

Similar Species: Cassin's Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, Black-capped Vireo

Conservation Status: They are quite frequent hosts to cowbird parasitism, but populations are considered stable or may even be increasing.  The IUCN lists the Blue-headed Vireo as a species of "Least Concern."

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Blue-headed Vireo

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue-headed Vireo"

3) eNature.com: Blue-headed Vireo

Photo Information: September 2nd, 2012 - Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue-headed Vireo photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Blue-headed Vireo - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant throughout the state.