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Red-eyed Vireo, Nick Saunders
Photo © Nick Saunders

Photo: Nick Saunders
Breeding evidence - Red-eyed Vireo
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Red-eyed Vireo
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Red-eyed Vireo
Elevation plot

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Red-eyed Vireo
Vireo olivaceus
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
0 - 1467 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
43 175 751 504
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 -1.56 (-2.66 - 0.053)Medium
Canada1970 - 2012 0.65 (0.233 - 1.12)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
0.160.41 0.160.14 0.11
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
0.160.41 0.410.11 0.09
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.170.06 0.18  0.12

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.19 0.1 
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce

Characteristics and Range The Red-eyed Vireo is noted for singing its pleasant song continuously, to the point of monotony. Song bouts can continue for 10 or 20 minutes without a break, giving rise to the old nickname of "Preacher Bird" (Bent 1950). The species breeds in deciduous woods across much of North America, including the Boreal Forest, but is absent from some western montane regions and the drier southwest of the continent. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering across central and northern South America.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Red-eyed Vireo is widely distributed in British Columbia, with major clusters of breeding in the northeast and across the southern interior. The Atlas maps a northwesterly expansion from the range shown by Campbell et al. (1997), into the valleys of the Omineca and Cassiar mountains and the lower Stikine River.

The species is most abundant in the Taiga Plains and Boreal Plains ecoprovinces. A secondary area of high Probability of Observation and moderate abundance values is in the valleys of the Southern Interior Mountains and adjacent Southern Interior ecoprovinces, where the Red-eyed Vireo was previously considered most numerous (Campbell et al. 1997). It is most abundant between 250 and 750 m, with very few records above 1000 m.

In British Columbia, the Red-eyed Vireo prefers tall stands of deciduous trees, most often in riparian areas. The exception to this is in the Boreal Plains and Taiga Plains ecoprovinces, where it occupies extensive stands of Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) and tall Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in non-riparian areas. In southern and central British Columbia, the Red-eyed Vireo is found mostly in lowland riparian forests and the Warbling Vireo in upland deciduous stands, which is the reverse of the pattern seen in most of eastern North America.

Conservation and Recommendations There are no major conservation concerns for the Red-eyed Vireo, which has shown a slight long-term increasing trend across North America, based on the Breeding Bird Survey (Sauer et al. 2014), a stable population trend in British Columbia, and overall is one of the most abundant forest birds of North America (Cimprich et al. 2000).

Wayne C. Weber

Recommended citation: Weber, W.C. 2015. Red-eyed Vireo in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [28 May 2024]

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