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Black-capped Vireo Vireo atricapillus


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Black-capped Vireo
credit: Birdfilms/CCSA

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Family: Vireonidae, Vireos view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has a black hood, and white lores and mask surrounding red eye. Back and rump are greenish, dark wings have two pale wing bars and pale fringes to inner flight feathers, and underparts are whitish, palest on throat with buff wash on flanks. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but hood is dark gray. JUVENILE Recalls adult female, but has browner plumage overall and dull eye.

Dimensions Length: 4 1/2 -4 3/4" (11-12 cm)

Endangered Status The Black-capped Vireo is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its range in Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. In recent years this vireo has become rare, mainly because its nesting has been disrupted by cowbirds. These notorious nest parasites remove eggs from a vireo's nest and deposit their own eggs in their place. The young cowbirds are so much larger than the host bird's young that they crowd and starve them out. The loss and alteration of its habitat, mainly by humans, has also affected this species. Programs are underway in Texas and Oklahoma to prevent cowbird parasitism, by trapping the birds and removing their eggs from other birds' nests.

Habitat Local and endangered summer visitor (mainly Apr-Aug) to scrub-covered rocky ground with sumac and oaks in Texas; dense, ungrazed new growth is ideal. Habitat destruction and nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird have aided decline. Winters in Mexico.

Observation Tips Listen for the distinctive song.

Range Texas, Plains

Voice Song comprises warbling phrases such as fzz-ch'ch'ch-chee with pauses between; calls include a harsh zrree.

Discussion Distinctive vireo. Forages among foliage and gleans insects while hovering. Sexes are dissimilar.