Bird of the Week: Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo

The Black-capped Vireo is one of two endangered species of birds that breed in Central Texas, the other being the Golden-cheeked Warbler. The smallest vireo in North America, the Black-capped Vireo makes its home in “shinneries”, areas of grassland mixed with clumps of shrubs and small trees. This habitat type has become increasingly imperiled since the closing of the American range in the 19th Century, victim of a combination of fire suppression, overgrazing, and suburban sprawl. Black-capped Vireos are also vulnerable, like Golden-cheeked Warblers, to nest parasitism by Bronze Cowbirds, who lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. A federally listed endangered species since 1987, the Vireo is one of the symbols of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, along with the Golden-cheeked Warbler, a reminder of the fragility and rare beauty of the Central Texas landscape.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Image courtesy of Kelly Colgan Azar via Flickr Creative Commons.