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Vireonidae – Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis

Blue-headed Vireo in the United States: Photo by Will Bennett

Vireonidae is a diverse family of small to medium-sized songbirds found primarily in the Americas. With over 60 species distributed across various habitats, from forests to shrublands, vireos exhibit a wide range of plumage colors and patterns.

Overview of Vireonidae

Until recently, vireos posed a biogeographical enigma, as their relationship with Old World corvoids contradicted their remarkable diversity and apparent confinement to the New World. However, molecular studies have resolved this paradox, revealing that species like the Pteruthius shrike-babblers and the solitary Erpornis genus from southern Asia are indeed vireonids. These avians, characterized by their small size, prominent bills, and arboreal habits in woodlands and forests, include many North American members renowned for their ceaseless day-long melodies. Interestingly, certain species exhibit distinct colors on their feet and legs, with shades of blue prevalent among many Western Hemisphere vireos and pink hues observed in select Asian counterparts.