Beak of the Week – White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)

Family: Vireonidae

The White-eyed Vireo is a migratory songbird common throughout much of the eastern United States. Like other vireos, White-eyed Vireos are relatively stocky birds with a thick, straight, and slightly hooked bill. The White-eyed Vireo has a gray head, a pale throat, yellow flanks, an olive back, and two white wingbars. The best distinguishing characteristics are bright yellow spectacles around the eye and the namesake white iris. Juveniles may have a dark iris until their first winter or spring. White-eyed vireos sing a rapid, nasally series of notes typically beginning and ending with a sharp chik sound. Males and females both sing in the winter time, but only the males sing on breeding grounds.

White-eyed Vireos are common anywhere there is dense, scrubby vegetation such as forest edges, second growth forest, overgrown fields, and streamside thickets. White-eyed Vireos eat primarily insects, but will occasionally eat small fruits during winter and migration. They are active foragers and will hop among twigs and branches searching for bugs. During breeding, pairs will look for Y-shaped forks in shrubs or saplings close to the ground. Males will sing incessantly to defend nesting sites. Once a suitable spot is found, both the male and female build a nest of twigs, roots, shreds of bark, and leaves bound with spiderwebs and lined with fine grass, rootlets, or hair. Both parents help in raising the chicks.

White-eyed Vireos can be found year round on the Gulf Coast. They can be hard to see since they prefer dense, shrubby vegetation. If searching for one, listen for their distinct song, which they often sing well into the day. The High Island sanctuaries are a great place to find them, so come on down and see one for yourself!

Greg Lavaty
Greg Lavaty
 Visit our Bird Gallery to read about other Texas birds! 

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