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.

DC Information

Regular migrant, varying in abundance from year to year. Found in deciduous and coniferous forests during migration, early April to mid-May and late September to late October. Sexes are similar.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52985 Vireo solitarius (Blue-headed Vireo)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52986 Vireo solitarius (Blue-headed Vireo)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52987 Vireo solitarius (Blue-headed Vireo)