South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Warbling Vireo

Vireo gilvus

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8.75 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Gray overall, with darker upperparts and lighter underparts, sometimes with a wash of faint yellow.  White eyebrow.

Warbling Vireo - Vireo gilvus The Warbling Vireo is a very plain looking bird with a musical warbling song.  They are often found high in the treetops, and may be known by song more than by appearance for many people.  They can be found across much of North America.  The eastern and western birds sing slightly different songs, leading some to believe they should be classified as separate species, but they are virtually identical in appearance.

Habitat: Uses open deciduous or mixed forest during the summer breeding season, especially along woodland edges and clearings.  They can also be found in isolated groves of trees in otherwise largely unforested land, such as farmsteads and shelterbelts, riparian areas, and suburban settings.  They winter in open woods in the tropics. 

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects in all seasons.  Will also eat spiders, snails, fruits, and berries.

Behavior: Forages by moving briskly through foliage and gleaning insects from leaves and branches.  They will also sometimes hover to glean insects.

Nesting: Late May through mid-July.  The nest of a Warbling Vireo is a cup of grasses, sedges, strips of bark, leaves, and other plant material, placed in the fork of a tree.  The female lays between 3 and 5 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young. The young fledge after about 2 weeks.

Song: A fast musical warbling.  Click to hear the Warbling Vireo song.

Migration: Summers throughout most of the continental United States except for portions of the South, also in much of western Canada.  Winters in Mexico and points south.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Warbling Vireo sightings

Similar Species: Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee Warbler

Conservation Status: Numbers are probably much greater than before European settlement of North America, due to the vast increases in "edge" habitat created through fragmentation and clearing of forest land.  The IUCN lists the Warbling Vireo as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Warbling Vireo

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Warbling Vireo

3) Warbling Vireo

Photo Information: September 5th, 2011 - Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

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


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Warbling Vireo - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer breeding resident throughout the state.