Family Vireos (Vireonidae)

Least Concern

Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)


French: Viréo aux yeux rouges German: Rotaugenvireo Spanish: Vireo chiví

Muscicapa olivacea


, 1766,

North America = (South) Carolina, USA


Forms a clade with V. flavoviridis, V. magister, V. altiloquus and V. gracilirostris, based on genetic analyses#R. Often treated as conspecific with V. gracilirostris, but they appear distinct; sometimes regarded as conspecific with V. flavoviridis, but biochemical studies coupled with morphological and vocal differences strongly indicate that the two are distinct species. Neotropical races sometimes treated as representing a distinct species, under name “V. chivi”, although this apparently diverged from nominate only c. 370,000 years ago (whereas V. flavoviridis and present species diverged from each other c. 4.6 million years ago); “chivi group” of races suggested to have arisen from wintering individuals of nominate race from North America that failed to migrate back N in spring, and, in a situation where migration was largely unnecessary and consequent gene-pool mixing of different populations reduced, further subspeciation of Neotropical populations likely. Additional work required on some resident South American races, which appear to have distinct vocalizations#R. Report of hybridization with V. philadelphicus in SE Canada (Quebec). Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. o. olivaceus (Linnaeus, 1766) – Red-eyed Vireo – Canada (except NW & N) and NW, C & E USA; migrates to N South America.
  • V. o. caucae (Chapman, 1912) – W Colombia (Pacific coast at Juradó, W slope of W Andes, and valleys of upper R Patía and upper R Cauca).
  • V. o. vividior Hellmayr & Seilern, 1913 – N & C Colombia (S to Meta), Venezuela, the Guianas, extreme N Brazil (N Amazonas, Roraima), and Trinidad.
  • V. o. tobagensis Hellmayr, 1935 – Tobago.
  • V. o. griseobarbatus (Berlepsch & Taczanowski, 1884) – W Ecuador and NW Peru.
  • V. o. pectoralis J. T. Zimmer, 1941 – N Peru (middle Marañón Valley).
  • V. o. solimoensis Todd, 1931 – E Ecuador, NE Peru, and W Brazil (E to lower R Negro, S to upper R Juruá and R Purus).
  • V. o. chivi (Vieillot, 1817) – Chivi Vireo – C Peru, WC Brazil, E Bolivia, W Paraguay, and NE Argentina (S to San Luis, Córdoba, Santa Fe and N Buenos Aires); non-breeding E Colombia, S Venezuela and NC Brazil (S of R Amazon).
  • V. o. agilis (M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) – E Brazil (E from near Faro on N bank of R Amazon and, on S bank, from R Madeira) S to Rio de Janeiro.
  • V. o. diversus J. T. Zimmer, 1941 – E Paraguay, SE Brazil (São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul) and Uruguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·8–15·6 cm; 12–25·1 g. Nominate race has crown grey with darker grey edges, long supercilium extending above ear-coverts off-white, lores... read more


    Most studies done with nominate race; often only anecdotal data on other populations. Song of... read more


    On breeding grounds, nominate race favours areas of deciduous forest or mixed deciduous-coniferous... read more

    Food and feeding

    In breeding season, food of N populations mostly (85%) animal, predominantly arthropods, especially caterpillars when abundant, flies (... read more


    Season mostly Apr/May–Aug in North America, with egg-laying late May to mid-Jul (replacement clutches as late as mid-Aug) in S Canada... read more


    N populations (nominate race) wholly migratory, spending non-breeding season in South America from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant breeder throughout much of its North American range; widespread and common in South America. North American Breeding Bird Surveys over years... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2019). Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus). 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 19 April 2019).