Blue-headed Vireo

Vireo solitarius


Early Spring Date: April 4
Late Spring Date: May 23
Most Frequently Seen: April 17-29

Blue-headed Vireos are the first vireos to arrive at Monticello Park each spring. They start to arrive in early April and are most commonly seen during the second half of the month. They are never in the park in significant numbers. They nest in Canada, the northern United States, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Where to See Them in the Park

Blue-headed Vireos usually forage in the mid-level of trees. They rarely go into the stream.

Physical Description


Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo - Photo by Michael Pollack

Blue-headed Vireos have a blue-gray head and prominent white spectacles. They appear to be wearing the spectacles backwards, with the arms pointing in front of the eyes. The back is olive, and the wings have two white wingbars. The underparts are whitish, and the flanks have a yellow wash. The head of females and juveniles is a little lighter, but this is difficult to see in the field.

Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo - Photo by Michael Pollack

The white spectacles look even more prominent when viewed head on.

Vocalizations

The two-part "call and response" song of the Blue Headed Vireo is slower, more slurred, and not as sweet as the song of Red-eyed Vireos. David Sibley says it sounds like see you, cheerio, be-seein-u, so-long, seeya.....

Hear the vocalizations of the Blue-headed Vireo.

Notes

The Blue-headed Vireo used to be called the Solitary Vireo before the Solitary was split into three species. The other two species are the Cassin's Vireo, found along the west coast of North America, and the Plumbeous Vireo, found in western states east of California as well as in western Mexico. Plumbeous means "lead-colored", and the Plumbeous Vireo looks like a Blue-headed without yellow in any of its feathers.

Origin of Names

Common Names: Blue-headed for the blue-gray head. Vireo is Latin for "green".
Genus Name: Vireo means "green".
Species Name: Solitarius means "solitary", because Alexander Wilson, who first collected the species, generally saw it alone.

Blue-headed Vireo video footage

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