A Closer Look at the Warbling Vireo

by Larry Jordan on September 11, 2012

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus swainsoni) photo by Larry Jordan

I spotted it in the oak tree near the water feature. The western subspecies of Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus swainsoni) traveling south on its fall migration. As stated in an earlier post, this was a new yard bird for me and I was thrilled to have it visit. Click on photos for full sized images.

Many times these somewhat plain Vireos are heard rather than seen. They have several distinctive calls described by a birding friend of mine as “asking a question.”

Warbling Vireos have a broad breeding distribution occupying a variety of deciduous forest habitats, predominantly riparian1.

The presence of tall, primarily deciduous trees appears to be a requirement of breeding habitat. They breed in large deciduous trees, roadside tree belts, mature riparian woodlands, orchards, scattered trees in cultivated areas, on hillsides, by lakes and streams, and along canyons.

The nest is in a tree, usually high up in a horizontal twig fork, well out on a branch in the canopy. Usually 20 to 60 feet up, occasionally lower, and in the west frequently lower, sometimes in shrubs down to 4 feet2.

Their nest is a rough, rounded, hanging cup bound to twigs at its rim. Made of hair, long grasses, threads of string, bark strips, plant down and lichen, bound with spider’s webs2.

I am pleased to show you a photo of the nest from a new Flickr contact of mine, Jerry Ting. Click on the nest photo to see the full sized image at Jerry’s photostream.

As I sat near the pond with my camera, the bird began approaching.

It flew down ever closer…

curious about me and probably wanting a drink…

until it was right in front of me, giving me an excellent view.

To see more great bird photos, check out The Bird D’pot and Wild Bird Wednesday!

References: 1Birds of North America Online; 2Baicich, Paul J. and Harrison, Colin J. O. (2005). Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. (Second Edition). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mia McPherson September 11, 2012 at 7:26 am

Larry, this would be a lifer for me. I love the subtle coloring of the plumage and that wonderful stripe above the eye. Congrats on the new yard bird!


Pia September 11, 2012 at 8:29 am

Nice photos of this sweet little one!
I think it’s the same we have here in my garden in Sweden too!


TexWisGirl September 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

adorable little ones!


Gail September 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

These are such cutie pies. Love the shot of the one in the nest.


Findlay Wilde September 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

Your post is full of so much information. I really like these little birds. From Findlay


Boom & Gary September 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

Beautiful shots, and a very informative series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Mick September 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Great photos of a beautiful bird.


Frank (The Early Birder) September 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

FABulous images and a very sweet song.


Carole M. September 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

a delightful little bird and you picked up such wonderful close-ups too


Adam Jones September 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I really like the shot of it in the nest. Very nice.


HansHB September 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Great serie of photos, – interesting reading!


Eileen September 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Great post on the Vireo, Larry. The photos are amazing.


Kerri September 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm

He really blends in well! Gorgeous bird!


Mary Howell Cromer September 12, 2012 at 4:20 am

What a lovely little bird to have in your yard, such a sweet looking face! thank you for your kind words Larry, i appreciated them very much~


Hilke Breder September 12, 2012 at 5:46 am

Nice photos and interesting report, Larry! The Warbling Vireo is the only bird I still hear singing this time of the year. The woods and thickets are otherwise quiet, other than the calls of Gray Catbirds.


Anni September 12, 2012 at 6:12 am

These images are outstanding!!! What a great photo share.

Silent Silhouettes


Pat September 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

Great photos of this sweet little bird.


Kelly September 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I love these little birds. I spent some time watching one at Magee Marsh this May. Your photos are fab. Their “bird personality” really shows through in the last four shots!


Phil Lanoue September 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

Terrific photos of these wonderful birds!


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