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Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Parvordo: Corvida
Superfamilia: Corvoidea
Familia: Vireonidae
Genera: Cyclarhis - Hylophilus - Vireo - Vireolanius


Vireonidae (Swainson, 1837)

Vernacular names
Magyar: Lombgébicsfélék

The vireos (sg. pronounced /ˈvɪri.oʊ/) are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds (mostly) restricted to the New World. They are typically dull-plumaged and greenish in color, the smaller species resembling wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. They range in size from the Choco Vireo, Dwarf Vireo and Lesser Greenlet, all at around 10 centimeters and 8 grams, to the peppershrikes and shrike-vireos at up to 17 centimeters and 40 grams (Forshaw & Parkes 1991).


The four genera of these birds make up the family Vireonidae, and are believed to be related to the crow-like birds in family Corvidae and the shrikes in family Laniidae. Recent biochemical studies have identified two babbler genera (Pteruthius and Erpornis) which may be Old World members of this family (Reddy & Cracraft 2007). Observers have commented on the vireo-like behaviour of the Pteruthius shrike-babblers, but apparently no-one suspected the biogeographically unlikely possibility of vireo relatives in Asia.

The family can be conveniently though perhaps inaccurately categorised by genus as the true vireos, the greenlets, the shrike-vireos and the peppershrikes. Preliminary genetic studies by Johnson et al. revealed large interspecific genetic distances between clades within Vireo and Hylophilus of a similar magnitude to differences between Cyclarhis and Vireolanius. Furthermore some vireo and greenlet species may be closer to the peppershrikes than to their respective congeners. A more comprehensive study may reveal this family to be considerably undersplit at both the generic and species level.


All members of the family eat some fruit but mostly insects and other arthropods. They take prey from leaves and branches; true vireos also flycatch, and the Gray Vireo takes 5 percent of its prey from the ground (Salaman & Barlow 2003).

Range and territorial behavior

Most species are found in Middle America and northern South America. Thirteen species of true vireos occur farther north, in the United States and Canada; of these all but Hutton's Vireo are migratory. Members of the family seldom fly long distances except in migration (Salaman & Barlow 2003). They inhabit forest environments, with different species preferring forest canopies, undergrowth, or mangrove swamps (Forshaw & Parkes 1991).

The resident species occur in pairs or family groups that maintain territories all year (except Hutton's Vireo, which joins mixed feeding flocks). Most of the migrants defend winter territories against conspecifics. The exceptions are the complex comprising the Red-eyed Vireo, the Yellow-green Vireo, the Black-whiskered Vireo, and the Yucatan Vireo, which winter in small wandering flocks (Salaman & Barlow 2003).

Voice and breeding
The song of the Rufous-browed Peppershrike is described as a whistled phrase with the rhythm About this sound Do you wash every week? (help·info)

Males of most species are persistent singers. Songs are usually rather simple, monotonous in some species of the Caribbean littoral and islands, and most elaborate and pleasant to human ears in the Chocó Vireo and the peppershrikes (Salaman & Barlow 2003).

The nests of many tropical species are unknown. Of those that are known, all build a cup-shaped nest that hangs from branches. The female does most of the incubation, spelled by the male except in the Red-eyed Vireo complex (Salaman & Barlow 2003).


* Genus Vireo, the true vireos (the name is Latin for "I am green")
o The "eye-ringed" group.
+ Black-capped Vireo, Vireo atricapillus
+ Cozumel Vireo, Vireo bairdi
+ St. Andrew Vireo, Vireo caribaeus
+ Yellow-winged Vireo, Vireo carmioli
+ Cassin's Vireo, Vireo cassinii
+ Thick-billed Vireo, Vireo crassirostris
+ Yellow-throated Vireo, Vireo flavifrons
+ White-eyed Vireo, Vireo griseus
+ Cuban Vireo, Vireo gundlachii
+ Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni
+ Puerto Rican Vireo, Vireo latimeri
+ Choco Vireo, Vireo masteri
+ Jamaican Vireo, Vireo modestus
+ Flat-billed Vireo, Vireo nanus
+ Dwarf Vireo, Vireo nelsoni
+ Blue Mountain Vireo, Vireo osburni
+ Mangrove Vireo, Vireo pallens
+ Plumbeous Vireo, Vireo plumbeus
+ Blue-headed Vireo, Vireo solitarius
+ Gray Vireo, Vireo vicinior
o The "olivaceous" group.
+ Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus
# Chivi Vireo, Vireo (olivaceus) chivi
+ Noronha Vireo, Vireo gracilirostris
+ Yellow-green Vireo, Vireo flavoviridis (sometimes included in V. olivaceus)
+ Black-whiskered Vireo, Vireo altiloquus
+ Yucatan Vireo, Vireo magister
o The "gilvus" group.
+ Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus
+ Brown-capped Vireo, Vireo leucophrys
+ Philadelphia Vireo, Vireo philadelphicus
o Bell's Vireo - apparently basally positioned in Vireonidae.
+ Bell's Vireo, Vireo bellii
o Clade uncertain.
+ Golden Vireo, Vireo hypochryseus
+ Slaty Vireo, Vireo brevipennis
* Genus Hylophilus, the greenlets
o Group A - Generally with simple song and pale iris.
+ Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Hylophilus poicilotis
+ Gray-eyed Greenlet, Hylophilus amaurocephalus
+ Scrub Greenlet, Hylophilus flavipes
+ Gray-chested Greenlet, Hylophilus semicinereus
+ Ashy-headed Greenlet, Hylophilus pectoralis
+ Lemon-chested Greenlet, Hylophilus thoracicus
+ Olivaceous Greenlet, Hylophilus olivaceus
+ Tepui Greenlet, Hylophilus sclateri
o Group B - Complex song and dark iris.
+ Golden-fronted Greenlet, Hylophilus aurantiifrons
+ Dusky-capped Greenlet, Hylophilus hypoxanthus
+ Buff-cheeked Greenlet, Hylophilus muscicapinus
+ Lesser Greenlet, Hylophilus decurtatus
+ Brown-headed Greenlet, Hylophilus brunneiceps
+ Rufous-naped Greenlet, Hylophilus semibrunneus
o Group C - Forest understory species.
+ Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Hylophilus ochraceiceps
* Genus Vireolanius, the shrike-vireos
o Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo, Vireolanius eximius
o Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo, Vireolanius leucotis
o Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo, Vireolanius melitophrys
o Green Shrike-vireo, Vireolanius pulchellus
* Genus Cyclarhis, the peppershrikes
o Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Cyclarhis gujanensis
o Black-billed Peppershrike Cyclarhis nigrirostris

Possible candidates for relocation to this family

* Genus Erpornis - see (Barker et al. 2004)
o White-bellied Erpornis or White-bellied "Yuhina", Erpornis zantholeuca - formerly in Yuhina (Cibois et al. 2002)
* Genus Pteruthius - shrike-babblers - see (Reddy & Cracraft, in press)
o Chestnut-fronted Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius aenobarbus
o White-browed Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius flaviscapis
o Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius melanotis
o Black-headed Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius rufiventer
o Green Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius xanthochlorus


* Barker, F. Keith; Cibois, Alice; Schikler, Peter A.; Feinstein, Julie & Cracraft, Joel (2004): Phylogeny and diversification of the largest avian radiation. PNAS 101(30): 11040-11045. doi:10.1073/pnas.0401892101 PDF fulltext Supporting information
* Collar, N. J. & Robson, C. 2007. Family Timaliidae (Babblers) Pp. 70–291 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
* Forshaw, Joseph & Parkes, Kenneth C. 1991. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds, p. 209. Merehurst Press, London. ISBN 1-85391-186-0
* Johnson, N. K., Zink, R. M., & Marten, J. A. 1988. Genetic evidence for relationships in the avian family Vireonidae. Condor, 90: 428-446.
* Reddy, Sushma & Cracraft, Joel (2007): Old World Shrike-babblers (Pteruthius) belong with New World Vireos (Vireonidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 44 (3): 1352–1357. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.02.023 (HTML abstract)
* Ridgely, R. S., & Tudor, G. 1989. The Birds of South America, vol. 1. Univ. Texas Press, Austin.
* Salaman, Paul & Barlow, Jon C. 2003. Vireos. Pp. 478–479 in; Perrins, C. ed. The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books, Oxford. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.

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