Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Warbling Vireo - Vireo gilvus
VIREONIDAE Members:
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General Comments The Warbling Vireo, along with the Red-eyed Vireo, has the most extensive breeding range of any vireo in North America. It breeds from coast to coast, though North Carolina lies along the southeastern edge of the range. As with most other vireos, it winters completely south of the United States. It has an unusual migration route in spring and fall: despite nesting in northern VA and northeast to the Canadian Maritimes, in migration it essentially stays west of the state, migrating around the western end of the Gulf of Mexico rather than over it. It is thus a "once-a-decade" find for most observers east of the mountains. Warblings nest mostly in our mountain valleys, usually in tall groves and riverside hardwoods, such as along the New River and forks, and the French Broad River. Away from the mountains, a few pairs nest in similar hardwood groves, mostly near water.
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
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Coastal Plain Transient, and possible accidental breeder. Very rare in both spring and fall. Records are increasing in recent years, though this might be due to more birding effort. From mid-Apr to late May (mostly in early to mid-May) and early Sep to mid-Oct. A few birds singing on territory have appeared sporadically since 1986 at several sites near the Roanoke River in Halifax; however, no conclusive nesting has been found. A winter report of one at Roanoke Island in Dec 2000 - Jan 2001* [Chat 66:4 link] is remarkable; details were provided to the NC BRC. There is another unusual report of three birds in Wilmington on 25 Mar 1959, which was likely an incorrect identification -- out of range, a month early, and three birds is simply implausible. Peak counts: 2.
Piedmont Transient (mainly in spring), and scarce summer resident. In spring, rare in the western half, and very rare in the eastern half; in fall, casual across the province. In summer, very rare and inexplicably local (habitat is widespread), with recent nesting records from Cabarrus, Forsyth, Orange, and Wake [Chat 68:122 link], [Chat 73:124-25 link], [Chat 76:112 link]. Three singing males were found in Catawba in mid-May 2010, suggestive of nesting; records at this site have continued into 2013. Recent summer records from Guilford, where presumed to nest; and a pair suspected of nesting in northwestern Alamance (2014). Primarily late Apr to mid-May, and mid-Sep to early Oct (only 5 fall reports). Peak counts:
Mountains Summer resident and transient. Uncommon in summer in the New River area of Ashe and Alleghany; rare and very local farther south in valleys, to the French Broad River (Buncombe and Henderson). Otherwise, a rare transient, at low elevations (below 3,000 feet). Mainly late Apr to late Sep, with migrants mainly in the first half of May, and the middle of Sep. Peak counts:
Finding Tips Though a scarce bird in the state, driving roads that parallel or cross the South Fork New River, within a few miles of the confluence with the North Fork, as well as doing the same along the New below the confluence, should produce a few birds in summer.
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Attribution LeGrand[2015-03-05], LeGrand[2014-12-15], LeGrand[2014-05-18]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.
NA Maps
(source NatureServe)

View NatureServe distribution maps for Vireo gilvus