Bird of the Week: Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

The strident, tireless song of the Red-eyed Vireo–one listener reported 22,197 songs by a single male in one day!–is a common sound in summer, and a much more reliable identification than its difficult-to-spot red iris. Its song is an insistent, even monotonous call that earned it the nickname “preacher bird” in the 19th Century. (Ornithologist Bradford Torrey wrote of it, “whoever dubbed this vireo the ‘preacher’ could have no very exalted opinion of the clergy.”) While their songs may sound monotonous to the inattentive listener, Red-eyed Vireos actually have a repertoire of 30 or more individual songs, each collection of which is unlike that of other birds. In fact, over 12,000 individual song types have been recorded! Red-eyed Vireos can be seen (and much more often heard) in riparian woodlands all summer, returning to South America in the fall.

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.