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Species: Hutton’s Vireo Vireo huttoni


Hutton’s Vireo is one of five species of small vireos with wing bars found in North America (the others being Bell’s, Black-capped, White-eyed and Thick-billed), but it is mostly confined to the Pacific coast west of the Cascades and Sierras, and the only one of these likely to be seen in the Vancouver area. It closely resembles Ruby-crowned Kinglet and some Empidonax flycatchers and must be carefully distinguished on the basis of voice, details of plumage, bill size, and habit.

It is an uncommon, active small bird of mixed and deciduous woodland and shrubbery, frequently in oak woods and in mixed foraging flocks.


General: A small drab olive vireo with two white wing bars. Male and female similar. Strikingly similar in size and plumage to Ruby-crowned Kinglet on account of the similar colour, two white wing bars, and white eye ring. Distinguished from it by noticeably thicker bill with discernable hook, somewhat stockier build, larger head, incomplete eye ring broken by a dark area above the eye, and a whitish streak from base of bill to eye (lores).

Adult: Length 11-12 cm.Upper parts dull olive becoming greenish olive on rump. Wings and tail dusky with olive edging. Under parts dull buffy olive, becoming whitish on abdomen. Two whitish bars on the wings. The pale lower wing bar does not have a black streak below compared with Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Activity more deliberate than Ruby-crowned Kinglet and it does not continually twitch its wings like this species does. Definitive identification based on voice.

Juvenile: Generally similar to adult, but wing bars less distinct.

Similar species: In the Pacific region only likely to be confused with
Ruby-crowned Kinglet or Empidonax flycatchers, but latter have more upright stance, different activity and have complete eye rings.

Behaviour: Forages deliberately, vireo-like, in woodland and shrubbery for insects and grubs. Solitary, or in mixed flocks of small songbirds such as chickadees or kinglets.

Habitat: Woodland and shrubbery, preferring oak woods where present and Douglas-fir under story.


In Canada, it is restricted to Southwestern British Columbia west of the Coast Mountains, including Vancouver Island, where it is a permanent resident. A second separate but related population exists in South-central US from Arizona, Texas, through Mexico to Guatemala. The species name was given in 1851 by John Cassin, Philadelphia ornithologist, for William Hutton, a field collector of birds, about whom little is known.

The male sings constantly during the breeding season to defend the nesting territory. The song is a rising or descending ch-weet ch-weet, repeated continuously in paired notes, the second note either higher or lower than the first. The call is a low chit or whit, whit, or kip, kip, kip.
The nest is a hanging cup built 6-25 feet above ground, usually in oak but sometimes in conifer trees. There are usually 3-4 eggs, which are white with brown specks at the larger end. Both parents incubate the eggs for 14-16 days. Both parents feed the young which leave the nest from 14-17 days after hatching. Occasionally there are two broods each year.

Conservation Status:

The Hutton's Vireo is currently rated as Least Concern and it is thought populations are stable or possibly increasing slightly. The estimated population is around 2 million individual birds and there are currently no known threats facing the species at this time.
Capture Rates

A year round resident of British Columbia's coastal areas, the Hutton’s Vireo prefers mixed evergreen forests as found on the perimeter of Colony Farm Regional Park. Therefore, Hutton's Vireo are rarely seen at the banding station as reflected by the capture of few individuals in September and zero capture rate for the remainder of the year. Capture rates are standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours from 2010 - 2012.


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