Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Red-Eyed Vireo an Overachiever

Posted by  //  May 30, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Everyone’s got that friend or coworker who goes over the top on most everything.  With their spotless homes, perfectly landscaped yards, impeccable appearance, and magazine worthy holiday spreads, these committed folks are high performers.  We can find overachievers in the wild too, where certain only-the-best-will-do behaviors set some animals apart from the others.  One such dynamo is the Red-eyed Vireo, a common, small songbird native to northern forest habitats.

The Red-eyed Vireo has olive green plumage above and pale undersides.  Its head is grey with distinct white stripes over ruby-red eyes.  Due to its tendency to occupy treetops, you may not see this bird — but it’s very likely you’ll hear it. That’s because the Red-eyed Vireo holds two North American records:  one for the longest time spent continuously singing, and the other for the most repetitions of that song within that period.  The record-setter was recorded singing for 10 consecutive hours, during which he repeated his solo over 22,000 times!  (For perspective’s sake, most other bird species repeat their songs a few hundred times a day, with some perhaps up to a few thousand.)  Additionally, as individual males may sing over 30 different songs and neighboring birds each have unique repertoires, over 12,500 different types of Red-eyed Vireo songs have been recorded.  No wonder the Red-eyed Vireo is nicknamed “The Preacher!”  

Article & photo by Margie Manthey

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