Black-capped Vireo Area

If you are hiking through the trails between April and July, keep your eyes peeled for the small and rare insect eating black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla).

These birds call Dinosaur Valley State Park home for a period of time each year before heading south to spend the winter on the western coast of Mexico. They are a small bird measuring only 4.5 inches long. Males are distinguished by olive green coloring with a black crown and partial white eye ring. Female birds are duller in color than males and appear to be more brown than olive.

They build cup shaped nests in shrubs close to the ground, in rangelands consisting of rocky, limestone soils with scattered clumps of shrubs separated by grasslands. Females lay 3-4 eggs which both parents incubate for 14-17 days.

Black-capped vireos have been listed as endangered since 1987 due to many factors such as habitat destruction, lack of wildfires to maintain optimal habitat and nest parasitism from the brown-headed cowbird. These birds return year after year to the same area to nest, and if that area has been destroyed or altered, vireos will abandon that nesting site.

Because of the endangered status of these birds, be sure to be respectful of their space as you hike. Try not to flush birds from their nests or disturb young. Black-capped vireos should be viewed only from a distance with binoculars.

*Information gathered from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.