Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Black-whiskered Vireo - Vireo altiloquus
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General Comments For a species that nests in the West Indies and north to the western and southern coasts of Florida, one might expect at best only one or two state records for this cousin of the Red-eyed Vireo. However, the Black-whiskered Vireo "overshoots" its breeding range enough in spring that sharp-eyed or sharp-eared birders can recognize it from the very common Red-eyed. Amazingly, there are over a dozen state records, all from the Coastal Plain in spring or early summer. This is in stark contract to South Carolina, which, despite lying closer to Florida, has just two records for the species (as of 2023).
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Now a very rare overshooting stray along and near the coast, in spring; a remarkable 14+ records so far. One was seen at Wrightsville Beach (New Hanover) on 1 Apr 1960 [Chat 25:17-18 link]; one was near Masonboro Sound (New Hanover) on 8 May 1983 [Chat 47:110 link]; a bird acting territorial at Cape Lookout (Carteret) was present from 23 May - 2 Jul 1994 [Chat 59:87 link]; one was seen in Beaufort (Carteret) on 6 May 1994 [Chat 60:140 link]; another was at Cape Lookout on 20 May 2000 [Chat 64:156 link]; one was found at Bald Head Island (Brunswick) from 6-22 Jun 2001 [Chat 66:33 link]; and one was in Manteo (Dare) on 29 Jun 2006 [Chat 71:3 link]. One was observed singing at Morehead City (Carteret) from 17-20 Jun 2019 [Chat 83:117 link]; and one was photographed at Duck (Dare) on 1 May 2020 [Chat 84:99 link]. Singles were seen in coastal Dare at Buxton on 30 Apr 2021 and likely the same not far away on 30 Apr; supposedly a different one was seen on the Hatteras Inlet peninsula on 6-15 May 2021 [Chat 85:127 link]. Probably a different bird from the 2021 one was seen at Cape Hatteras Point on 4 May and 14 May 2022. A singing bird was photographed at Beaufort (Carteret) on 16-17 Jun 2023. One found along Billfinger Road in Croatan National Forest (Craven) on 13 Jun 2009 is the only somewhat inland record [Chat 73:162 link].
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips If one is birding along the southern coastline in May or early June, especially on islands, it doesn't hurt to learn or be familiar with the song of the Black-whiskered Vireo. Many of the state records were of birds that were first heard singing, and the observers either recognized the species from the song, or realized that these were not likely Red-eyed Vireos and needed visual confirmation.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-10-20], LeGrand[2023-03-26], LeGrand[2022-09-14]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.