Main content

Red-Eyed Vireo

Michael Palin presents the red-eyed vireo from North America.

Michael Palin presents the red-eyed vireo from North America. About the size of British great tits the red-eyed vireo is a common summer visitors to much of North America where they breed in woodlands. The adult vireos are mainly olive green with white bellies and grey heads and their red eyes are highlighted by a white eyestripe. Seeing the birds as they hunt insects among the leaves is much harder than hearing them, because red-vireos are tireless songsters. They used to be known locally as "preacher birds " and territorial males hold the record for the largest repertoire produced by a songbird in a single day.

Each vireo can have a repertoire of between a dozen and over a hundred different song-types. And while these marathon "question- and- answer" sessions are the soundtrack to many North American woods, they aren't universally appreciated. The nature writer Bradford Torrey wrote in 1889 that "whoever dubbed this vireo the preacher could have had no very exalted opinion of the clergy"

Producer Andrew Dawes.

Available now

2 minutes

Last on

Thu 19 May 2022 05:58

Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)

Webpage image courtesy of Gerrit Vyn /

NPL Ref 01308817 © Gerrit Vyn /

Recording of Red-eyed vireo by Geoffrey A Keller / Ref: ML 176120

This programme contains a wildtrack recording of the red-eyed vireo kindly provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; recorded by Geoffrey A Keller on 1 May 2007; in Yellowwood State Forest, Brown County, Indiana, USA.


  • Mon 26 Jan 2015 05:58
  • Fri 22 Jan 2016 05:58
  • Mon 28 May 2018 05:58
  • Wed 4 Sep 2019 05:58
  • Fri 15 Oct 2021 05:58
  • Thu 19 May 2022 05:58

Podcast: Planet Puffin

Podcast: Planet Puffin

Exploring all things puffin - the silly and the serious, the scientific and the cultural.

Try this new podcast

Try this new podcast

Five stories of birds and birdsong are told by the people inspired by them.