Yellow-throated Vireo

Vireo flavifrons

  • Version: 2.0 — Published November 29, 2011
  • Paul G. Rodewald and Ross D. James

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Figure 1. Distribution of the Yellow-throated Vireo.

Distribution of the Yellow-throated Vireo. This species also winters on St. John in the Virgin Islands, and in South America in western Colombia and northern Venezuela. See text for details.

Adult Yellow-throated Vireo, San Marcos, TX, 6 May.

Yellow-throated Vireos look the same year-round, but in summer can become worn and faded. The only species potentially confused with this one is the Pine Warbler, which is slimmer-billed and longer-tailed, and usually has blurry olive streaks on its flanks. The following is a link to this photographer's website:, May 06, 2011; photographer Stephen Ramirez

In eastern North America, the Yellow-throated Vireo breeds in edge habitats of both bottomland and upland deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests. These habitats include forest edges of streams, rivers, swamps, treefall gaps, and roads, and woodland habitats of parks and towns. The Yellow-throated Vireo is widely sympatric with the far more common Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus), which tends to breed in less fragmented forest interior habitat.

Generally uncommon on its wintering grounds in Central and South America and the Caribbean, the Yellow-throated Vireo usually occurs singly within mixed-species foraging flocks in tropical forests, from dry forest to lowland rain forest, and up to 1,800 meters in montane forest.

During the early decades of the twentieth century, this species seemed to have disappeared from towns, suburban areas, and cities in the northeastern United States, including New York and Boston. Most ornithologists believed that these declines resulted from the heavy spraying of insecticides on shade trees to control Dutch elm disease. Although the species has disappeared more recently as a breeding species from several smaller forest reserves in the eastern United States, data from the Breeding Bird Survey show a significant range wide population increase of 1.1% per year from 1966 to 1994. This increase may be due, in part, to the maturation of woodlands in some areas of the eastern United States and Canada.

Perhaps because the Yellow-throated Vireo is generally uncommon throughout its breeding range and is primarily a subcanopy nester, it remains an under-studied North American breeder. Although its singing, breeding, and foraging behavior have received some study, little is known of its population biology, winter ecology, and sensitivity to land-use practices on both temperate breeding grounds and tropical wintering grounds.

Recommended Citation

Rodewald, P. G. and R. D. James (2011). Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.