RED-EYED VIREO – (Vireo olivaceus)
The Red-eyed vireo is a small passerine at 13 cm (5 in.) long. The Latin name ‘vireo’ means green, and ‘olivaceus’ also refers to the color green, as in olives. The back is olive green indeed, and the eyes are red as the name implies. The under parts are white and the bill is black. The top of the head is grey and there is a white band above the eye.
The red-eyed vireo has the reputation of a tireless singer with an apparent record of 20,000 songs a day. This makes it easier to identify them in the forest, where they are difficult to see among the leaves (same color) and because they move slowly in search of insects. Caterpillars are a favorite item on their diet, which changes with the season due to availability. In the winter red-eyed-vireos switch to wild berries.
The red-eyed vireo breeds in the middle of forests and shows a preference for broadleaf trees. The nest is cup-shaped and located in the fork of branches far from the trunk and around 3 meters (10 ft) from the ground. Making their nest in the middle of the forests as opposed to the edge helps to protect this species from the parasitism of the Brown-headed cowbird.
The red-eyed vireo breeds in PEI and is very common in spring and summer on the island. It is found through most of Canada and the USA. Its wintering range is in South America, mainly the Amazon valley.