Fun Facts About the Red-Eyed Vireo
The red-eyed vireo is a fascinating visitor to have in your yard! They’re one of the most common songbirds in the east throughout spring and summer. We had one nest in our lilac bush a couple of years ago and enjoyed watching the progress. Here are a few interesting facts about this unique bird:
Red-eyed vireos (scientific name Vireo olivaceus) have greenish-grey bodies with a white chest and, most notably, red eyes! That said, when they’re young, the birds have brown eyes instead. It can also be harder to see the red in their eyes when they’re far away or if it’s dark out. They’re around 5 inches long.
They live in deciduous woodlands throughout the eastern United States and in most of Canada. In the winter, they migrate to South American forests around the Amazon basin.
Because they spend so much time in the upper canopy of trees, it’s not always common to see one in your yard. You’ll likely hear one though…
Red-Eyed Vireo Call
The red-eyed vireo’s various songs can be heard throughout summer, though you may not have matched them to the little bird before! Their singing is so frequent that they actually hold the Guinness World Record for most songs over a 10-hour period. It’s usually the males that talk the most.
Interestingly, most have their own unique songs, since they can combine different phrases to create dozens of variations on a song! They are very territorial during the breeding season and will use their voices to drive others away.
Here is an example of a red-eyed vireo call:
What Does a Red-Eyed Vireo Eat?
Red-eyed vireos eat a combination of insects, berries, and seeds. They eat insects, including their preferred caterpillars, throughout the spring and summer. Other insects that they enjoy include ants, bees, beetles, cicadas, flies, grasshoppers, moths, spiders, and wasps. They find many insects by hovering near leaves and eating the bugs off of them.
Red-eyed vireos focus on eating berries and seeds during fall when they prepare for their migration. They eat mostly fruit in winter while they’re in South America.
Red-Eyed Vireo Nest
Breeding season for these birds occurs anytime from April to August. The birds make cup-shaped nests out of spider webs, twigs, grasses, bark, and similar items they find. They build their nests in forked areas between shrub or tree branches. These suspended nests can be anywhere from 2 to 60 feet off the ground.
Females lay 3-5 eggs in the nest, then incubate them for 11-14 days. Once hatched, the chicks are fed by the parents for 10-12 days, after which they leave the nest. They have a lifespan of up to 10 years.
Here are some pictures of a red-eyed vireo’s nest in our lilac bush:
You should now have a better understanding of these little birds. While this isn’t one you can easily attract to your home during summer, hummingbirds are! Here’s how to start feeding them.