Using museum specimens, I document the molt cycles and molting grounds of the Gray Vireo (Vireo vicinior). During prebasic molts, adult female Gray Vireos replace their primaries in 57 days, whereas adult males take 70 days; all body plumage is replaced during this molt. Prebasic molts occur almost exclusively on the breeding grounds; just 3 of 41 specimens replacing primaries were collected away from breeding grounds. No molting specimens were collected from wintering areas. Prealternate molt occurs on the wintering grounds, and appears limited to the replacement of innermost secondaries and a limited molt of body plumage. By performing prebasic molt on breeding grounds, the Gray Vireo differs from several other western breeding passerine species that use desert regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico to exploit late summer food resources. The areas of these southwestern desert regions used by other species form a small portion of the breeding grounds, and encompass the entire wintering grounds, of Gray Vireos. I hypothesize that this contrast in molting regions is not due to differences in the general timing of prebasic molts among these species; rather, the contrast may be due to constraints imposed on Gray Vireos by a dietary shift to fruit during winter and the need to defend winter territories.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3