AudioDateDownLeftRightUpCloseReportGallerySettingsGiftLanguageGridListMapMenuPhotoPlayPlusSearchStarUserIconVideo

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Contopus virens

Order:
Passeriformes
Family:
Tyrannidae
Sections
  • Authors: McCarty, John P.
  • Published: Jan 1, 1996
Listen

Free Introduction Article Access

The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining account articles and multimedia content. Rates start at $5 USD for 30 days of complete access.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In
Enlarge
Figure 1. Distribution of the Eastern Wood-Pewee.

This species winters in n. South America. (See Distribution for details.)

Enlarge
Adult Eastern Wood-Pewee; Bettendorf, Iowa 6/22/05

; photographer Ernesto Scott

© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This small, generally inconspicuous flycatcher is best known for its tireless hawking flights after insects and for its plaintive Pee-ah-wee song heard through much of the summer in wooded habitats of the eastern U.S. and Canada. This species spends much of its time high in the canopy and builds a small nest 5–20 m above the ground. The parents cover the woven grass cup with lichens, building an inconspicuous nest that is very much like a knot on the top of the supporting branch. As a result of its inaccessible and cryptic nest, much of this widespread species' reproductive biology remains unknown.

One of the last spring migrants to return from its wintering range in South America, the Eastern Wood-Pewee breeds in virtually every type of wooded habitat in the east, from urban shade trees, roadsides, woodlots, and orchards to mature forest. Although it generally inhabits eastern deciduous forest, it also breeds in open pine woodlands (especially in the South), riparian zones of the Great Plains, and mixed hardwood-conifer forest of the North.

Although still considered common in most of its range, this species declined significantly on its breeding grounds over the last 25 years, perhaps in part because of heavy browsing of forests by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).

Formerly considered conspecific with the Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus), these two species can be separated by their distinctive songs. Although the breeding ranges of these species overlap in a narrow zone in the Great Plains, hybridization between the two species has not been reported.

Recommended Citation

McCarty, John P.. (1996). Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/eawpew

DOI: 10.2173/bna.245