Vireo solitarius solitarius

Status:  Uncommon regular spring migrant east, rare east-central, rare casual west-central, accidental west. Uncommon regular fall migrant east, rare casual central and west.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM6767, 13 May 1917 Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy:  Two subspecies are currently recognized (Pyle 1997): solitarius from Canada through the north-central and northeastern USA, and alticola, of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Nebraska birds are solitarius.

The former “Solitary” Vireo was recently split into three species by Banks et al (1997), based on studies by Murray et al (1994) and Johnson (1995). All occur in Nebraska: Plumbeous Vireo (V. plumbeus), Cassin’s Vireo (V. cassinii), and this species.

Spring:  Apr 27, 27, 27 <<<>>> May 28, 29, 30

A later date is 1 Jun 2020 Pawnee Co.

The only records of Blue-headed Vireo away from the east are a specimen taken at Kearney, Buffalo Co 10 May 1914 now #2708 in the Brooking Collection (Brooking, Notes),  1-2 on each of four days 3-18 May 2020 at Cottonmill Park, Buffalo Co, one at Pioneer Park, Buffalo Co 12 May 2020, and singles in Harlan Co 5 May 2003, 22 May 2004, and 11 May 2007. One was in Rock Co 8 May 2021. The single Panhandle record was of one photographed in Sowbelly Canyon, Sioux Co 13 May 2017. It occurs with some regularity, although rarely, west to about Grand Island, Hall Co (Lingle 1994). A westerly report of “Solitary” Vireo which was not specified as Plumbeous Vireo, and thus likely a Blue-headed Vireo but possibly a Cassin’s, was 18 May 1986 Keith Co (Rosche 1994; Brown and Brown 2001).

  • High counts: 23 in Sarpy Co 11 May 1996 and 18 in Sarpy Co 13 May 1995.

Fall:  Aug 28, 28, 29 <<<>>> Oct 14, 15, 16

Earlier dates are 9 Aug 2018 Dodge Co, 20 Aug 1983 Douglas-Sarpy Cos, 21-22 Aug 2001 Dixon Co, 25 Aug 2018 Lancaster Co, and 26 Aug 2019 Buffalo Co.

Later dates are 23 Oct 2018 Lancaster Co, 23 Oct 2019 Douglas Co, 23 Oct 2020 Douglas Co, 28 Oct 1997 Douglas-Sarpy Cos, 29 Oct 2008 Sarpy Co, 1 Nov 1987 Lancaster Co, and a banded Hatch Year bird 2 Nov 2000 Bellevue, Sarpy Co.

Migrants pass through the east between late Aug and mid-Oct, but may linger rather late in fall.

Occurrence in fall is more widespread than in spring. There are nine Panhandle records: one was at Wind Springs Ranch, Sioux Co 29 Aug 2009, 30 Aug 2003 Oliver Reservoir, Kimball Co, 6 Sep 2003 Carter Canyon, Scotts Bluff Co, one banded at Chadron SP, Dawes Co 9 Sep 2009, a Hatch Year bird was banded at Wildcat Hills NC, Scotts Bluff Co 16 Sep 2011, one was at Crescent Lake NWR, Garden Co 16 Sep 2006, one was at Wind Springs Ranch 20 Sep 2000 (Jorgensen 2002), one was photographed at Gering, Scotts Bluff Co 27 Sep 1998 (Brogie 1999), and 30 Oct 1977 Garden Co. Most of the few documented records on the eastern Colorado plains are in Oct (Andrews and Righter 1992).

It occurs regularly west in the central Platte River Valley to Buffalo Co and neighboring counties; there are about 15 such records, nine of these 2019 and 2020, including four in 2019 in Buffalo Co 26 Aug-23 Sep and five in 2020 during 5 Sep-7 Oct.  Further west, records are 19 Sep 2001 Lake Ogallala, Keith Co, 25 Sep 2004 Grant Co, and 12 Oct 1990 at Kingsley Dam, Keith Co (Rosche 1994).

  • High counts:  15 at Wilderness Park, Lancaster Co 12 Sep 2020, 8 at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, Madison Co 10 Sep 2020, 6 at Wehrspann Lake, Sarpy Co 20 Sep 1999, and 5 at Fontanelle Forest, Sarpy Co 27 Sep 2008.


NC: Nature Center
SP: State Park
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum


Photograph (top) of a Blue-headed Vireo at Papillion, Sarpy Co 18 Sep 2012 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

Andrews, R., and R. Righter. 1992. Colorado birds.  Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Banks, R.C., J.W. Fitzpatrick, T.R. Howell, N.K. Johnson, B.L. Monroe Jr., H. Ouellet, J.V. Remsen Jr., and R.W. Storer. 1997. Forty-first supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American birds. Auk 114: 542-552.

Brogie, M.A. 1999. 1998 (Tenth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 67: 141-152.

Brooking, A.M. Notes. Bird specimen records. Manuscript in NOU Archives, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Brown, C.R., and M.B. Brown. 2001. Birds of the Cedar Point Biological Station. Occasional Papers of the Cedar Point Biological Station, No. 1.

Johnson, N.K. 1995. Speciation in Vireos. I. Macrogeographic patterns of allozymic variation in the Vireo solitarius complex in the contiguous United States. Condor 97: 903-919.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2002. 2002 (sic; =2000). (12th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 70: 84-90.

Lingle, G.R. 1994. Birding Crane River: Nebraska’s Platte. Harrier Publishing, Grand Island, Nebraska, USA.

Murray, B.W., W.B. McGillivray, J.C. Barlow, R.N. Beech, and C. Strobeck. 1994. The use of cytochrome b sequence variation in estimation of phylogeny in the Vireonidae. Condor 96:1037-1054.

Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1994. Birds of the Lake McConaughy area and the North Platte River valley, Nebraska.  Published by the author, Chadron, Nebraska, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2021.  Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 5 Jun 2021