White-eyed Vireo

Vireo griseus

Early Spring Date: April 13
Late Spring Date: May 17
Best Dates to See in Spring: April 22 - May 3

Spring: White-eyed Vireos are common nesters in the Washington metro area, but not many are seen at Monticello Park. A few pass through the park around the final week in April.

Fall: An average of only one or two White-eyed Vireos pass through Monticello each fall.

Where to See Them in the Park

White-eyed Vireos generally are seen in bushes or low in trees. They prefer dense foliage along the edges of woodlands, and Monticello does not have the type of habitat in which they typically stop during migration.

Physical Description

White-eyed Vireo
Adult - Photo by William Higgins

White-eyed Vireo
Adult - Photo by William Higgins

White-eyed Vireos have white eyes, a gray throat, yellow spectacles, and two white wingbars. They have a grayish cap and neck, and their flanks have a yellow wash. The sexes are similar.

White-eyed Vireo
Adult - Photo by William Higgins

The white irises and yellow spectacles can make them look alert and aggressive.

White-eyed Vireo
Immature - Photo by William Higgins

Fall: The plumage of adult males and females is the same in the fall and the spring. Hatch-year White-eyed Vireos do not have white eyes. They have similar plumage to adult birds, but the iris is dark rather than white. The iris remains dark through the winter and sometimes into the spring.


White-eyed Vireo
Adult - Photo by William Higgins

Their song sounds aggressive and does not fit into a simple category. It is a forceful chick-per-a-wee-o-chick, which sometimes is heard as quick-pick-up-the beer-check-quick.

Hear the vocalizations of the White-eyed Vireo.


White-eyed Vireo Audubon Painting

John James Audubon was familiar with White-eyed Vireos. He called them White-eyed Flycatchers, and they were common in Louisiana. His Birds of America painting of the species features one in an ornamental tree he called the Pride of China (Flowering Chinaberry). The wood from this tree is durable and was used for making furniture and fence posts. Audubon did not paint the tree — it was painted by Joseph Mason.

Origin of Names

Common Names: White-eyed from its white eye. Vireo is Latin for green.
Genus Name: Vireo means green.
Species Name: Griseus means gray, possibly from the head and throat.

White-eyed Vireo video footage

Return to the Index