Yellow-throated Vireo

by | Jan 1, 2016 | About Birds | 0 comments

The Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) is a bird often overlooked by more casual observers of the natural world, perhaps largely because it spends much of its time in the treetops, foraging for caterpillars and other invertebrates.

Our most strikingly plumaged vireo, this bird sports a bright yellow throat and breast, an olive-green back and head, and yellow eye ring and lores, which together form a spectacles-like pattern. There are two bold white wingbars. The wings and tail are gray, contrasting with the white belly and undertail coverts. The relatively thick, slightly hooked, gray and black bill help distinguish it from the similarly-plumaged Pine Warbler. Like most vireos, it is also a bit more sluggish than a warbler in its movements.

Like several other vireos, its song consists of a series of short, one to three syllabled phrases, but this species can be distinguished by the burry or husky quality of the phrases, unlike the purer, clearer tones of the songs of the Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos. Both sexes incubate the eggs, and, strangely, the male often sings while on the nest, seemingly a bad idea for a bird that presumably does not want its nest discovered by predators. The Yellow-throated also has a variety of soft call notes, rising or falling in pitch, often muttered quietly, as if the bird were talking to itself.

This species is found in open deciduous woods and forest edges, and, like other birds that naturally occur in open woods, such as the Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the Yellow-throated will sometimes nest in yards with larger deciduous trees. Unfortunately, it often finds its nest parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird, which usually results in no vireos being fledged.

The Yellow-throated Vireo is only found in our area in spring and summer in open deciduous forests, migrating south to Central America and northern South America for the winter, where it is found primarily in forest and forest edge at low to middle elevations. It is Climate Threatened, with only 27 percent of its summer range stable. To support Yellow-throated Vireos refrain from using pesticides, maintain forest edge habitat with native shrubs and perennials, and plant broad-leafed native trees.

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