Blue-Headed Vireo

Vireo solitarius
Range Map

The Blue-Headed Vireo, along with the Cassin’s and Plumbeous Vireos form a trio that were once lumped together as a single species, the Solitary Vireo. Each of the three have visual differences to help distinguish them from each other, but they also have general regional distinctions. The Cassin’s Vireo is more of a western bird, the Plumbeous a mid-continent bird, while the Blue-Headed Vireos enjoy a more eastern home in North America. All three members issue songs that sound remarkably similar. I liken their songs to a “call-and-answer” sequence, beginning with an up-slurred “two-wheet” question, followed by down-slurred “two-woo” answer.

Each spring, these birds leave their winter homes in Mexico, Central America and southwestern USA to raise families in Canada, New England and the Appalachian Mountains.

Science recognises two subspecies of Blue-Headed Vireo:

  • V. s. solitarius breeds in Canada and northeastern USA. In winter, they migrate south as far as Central America.
  • V. s. alticola breeds in the Appalachians and spends winters in the Gulf states of southeastern USA.

I first had the pleasure of their company while I attended the 2021 spring migration on South Padre Island in south Texas. For me, South Padre was not just a place for me to meet new warblers, but vireos I’d rarely, or never met, were also on the menu. Besides these Blue-Headed Vireos, there were Philadelphia, White-Eyed, and Yellow-Throated Vireos to entertain me there, as well as my old friends, the Warbling Vireos. During my 2022 tour of Canada, I met Blue-Headed Vireos on their breeding grounds near the Alaska Highway in Fort Saint John, British Columbia.

15 Photos

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