WatchList Species Account for Gray Vireo (Vireo vicinior)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Gray Vireo

Photo: Greg Lavaty

A small gray bird easy to confuse with other small gray birds in its habitat, the Gray Vireo breeds in montane regions and adjoining hot and arid scrubland in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, foraging for insects in thickets.


In winter it withdraws to south-central Arizona and northern Mexico, including the southern part of Baja California, though it is not known where the isolated populations in west Texas and southeastern Colorado spend the winter.


During breeding it is found in a variety of habitat including mixed juniper-pinyon and oak scrub or chaparral and montane arid scrubland.


In California its range has become fragmented and decreased in size, with some areas abandoned altogether.


In California in particular it is parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird, which does not pose a problem in other parts of its range; this may be the reason its range in California has decreased to only a few dozen pairs. The greatest population density is in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Numbers are difficult to estimate, as much of the range is inaccessible and the bird is hard to see.


The primary conservation problem for the Gray Vireo is the continuing destruction of pinyon-juniper woodlands for forage production and firewood. To protect the species, open and mature pinyon-juniper woodland needs to be maintained, particularly on rocky slopes.