Breeding behavior of the Plumbeous Vireo in New Mexico

T. E. DeMarco, C. B. Goguen, D. R. Curson, N. E. Mathews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus) is a poorly studied songbird species that breeds within the interior western United States and Mexico. We studied the breeding behavior of Plumbeous Vireos within pinyon-juniper habitats in northeastern New Mexico in 1996 and 1997. Over both years we located and monitored 40 nests and conducted behavioral observations throughout the nesting cycle. From these observations we described and compared basic behavioral traits of male and female vireos during their nest-building, egg-laying, incubation, and nestling stages, and their response to potential predators near the nest. Male vireos displayed potential nest sites to females, but the females selected the site to be used and built most of the nest. Vireos often did not initiate egg-laying until 2-3 d after nest completion. The female tended to incubate eggs and brood nestlings more than the male, but both parents contributed equally in provisioning the young. Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) parasitized 77% of nests in 1996, 63% in 1997, and parasitism was the primary cause of nest failure in this population. The conspicuousness of vireos around the nest, particularly during the nest-building stage, may contribute to high parasitism levels. Vireo aggression near the nest may also act as a cue to help cowbirds locate nests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-402
Number of pages9
JournalWestern North American Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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