Family Vireos (Vireonidae)

Least Concern

Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius)


French: Viréo à tête bleue German: Graukopfvireo Spanish: Vireo solitario

Muscicapa solitaria

A. Wilson

, 1810,

Bartram’s woods, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Forms a group with V. cassinii (which see) and V. plumbeus. Breeding range in SW Canada overlaps slightly with that of V. cassinii, and some interbreeding may occur; cytochrome b sequence studies indicate as much divergence between the two as between present species and V. flavifrons, with which it has likewise hybridized. Specimens of hybrids from non-breeding range in S Mexico and Guatemala were formerly classified as a full species under name “V. propinquus”. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. s. solitarius (A. Wilson, 1810) – Canada (SW Northwest Territories and W Alberta E to SW Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) S in E USA to N Minnesota, N Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; migrates to S USA (C Texas E to C North Carolina, S to C Florida), E Mexico and S mainly to N Nicaragua, rarely W Cuba and I of Pines.
  • V. s. alticola Brewster, 1886 – S Appalachians from NE West Virginia and W Maryland S to N Georgia, casually elsewhere E of mountains; migrates to SE USA (SE Louisiana E to S South Carolina, S to S Florida).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 14·1-19 g. Nominate race has crown, nape and ear-coverts slate-grey or blue-grey, sometimes with slight greenish suffusions, eyering and area above... read more


    Primary song, by male alone, a series of discrete phrases, each c. 0·3 seconds in length and... read more


    In N parts of range, typically coniferous forest with spruce (Picea), fir (Abies... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet during breeding predominantly of animal items (96%), with little vegetable matter (4%); on wintering grounds much more vegetarian (up... read more


    Laying from late Apr to early May in Georgia and the Carolinas, and late May to early Jun in Wisconsin and Quebec; probably single-brooded... read more


    N race (nominate) highly migratory, leap-frogging over alticola, which appears not to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Population appears to be increasing; Breeding Bird Surveys from 1966 to 2005 reveal significant annual increases of 4·2% (North America... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2020). Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).