Blue-headed Vireo

Vireo solitarius
Blue-headed Vireo specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (5-6 inches) vireo, the Blue-headed Vireo is most easily identified by its olive-green back and tail, pale breast, white wing bars, and bluish-gray head with white eye-rings. This species may be separated from the similar Black-capped Vireo (Vireo atricapillus) by that species’ smaller size and darker head. Male and female Blue-headed Vireos are similar to one another in all seasons. The Blue-headed Vireo primarily breeds across southern Canada and the northeastern United States. Smaller numbers breed at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as northern Alabama. Blue-headed Vireos spend the winter in the southeastern U.S., eastern Mexico, and northern Central America. Blue-headed Vireos breed in a number of dense woodland habitats with a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees. During the winter, this species may be found in a variety of habitat types, including deciduous and evergreen woodland, bushy fields, and humid tropical forests. Blue-headed Vireos primarily eat small insects during the summer, but also eat small quantities of fruits and berries during the winter. In appropriate habitat, Blue-headed Vireos may be seen foraging for food on leaves and branches at middle heights in the tree canopy. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of fluty notes similar to but somewhat higher-pitched than that of the Red-eyed Vireo. Blue-headed Vireos are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern