The Preacherbird – Red-eyed Vireo

Song after song, second after second, all day long, dawn to dusk—the male Red-eyed Vireo never seems to shut up. Though his songs are brief and mediocre (in a human musical sense), he keeps hammering away, throughout the day, like a Preacher repeating his message over-and-over in hopes that it will finally sink in.

All hail the Preacherbird!

placeholder image for the Red-eyed Vireo video clip

Factoid 1: Lousie de Kiriline Lawrence, a Canadian ornithologist, followed a male for a whole day and counted a whopping 22,197 songs—you’d think the vireo’s voice box (syrinx) would have given out!

Factoid 2: Though his songs seem rather stereotyped, a male has about 50 different songs in his repertoire (it’s actually a bit more complicated than this, but suffice to say that each male sings lots of different songs).

The footage in the above video was gathered on May 16 & 17, 2010, at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky. This was a difficult project because the male would not sit still for very long and the light in the sub-canopy of the oak woods was very dim, severely straining the capability of the equipment. Nonetheless, the results speak for themselves—it is exciting that recent technological improvements now allow us to get usable video footage under such low-light conditions.


  1. Excellent videos! I noticed that he sings louder and softer at various times throughout the video. Is there a reason for this? Maybe when he sings loud, he’s mad he can’t find a female, so he’s getting rid of his anger.

    I have only actually seen a Red-Eyed Vireo three times, in my neighborhood, in a wooded area not far from home, and my grandparent’s house. In Michigan, the song of the Red-Eyed Vireo is a very common sound in summer. The Warbling Vireo is a common summer sound as well. I also sometimes here Yellow-Throated Vireos.

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