The Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens) is a small tyrant flycatcher from North America. This bird and the Western Wood-Pewee (C. sordidulus) were formerly considered to be a single species. The two species are virtually identical in appearance and can be distinguished most easily by their calls.
Adults are gray-olive on the upperparts with light underparts, washed with olive on the breast. They have two wing bars, and the primary remiges are long, giving the wingtip a slim and very pointed appearance. The upper part of the bill is dark, the lower part is yellowish. The songs are basically a mournful whistled pee-a’wee given in a series, which gave this bird its name, and a “pe-wee” with a rising note at the end. [Wikipedia]
The olive-brown Eastern Wood-Pewee is inconspicuous until it opens its bill and gives its unmistakable slurred call: pee-a-wee!—a characteristic sound of Eastern summers. These small flycatchers perch on dead branches in the mid-canopy and sally out after flying insects. Though identifying flycatchers can be confusing, pewees are grayer overall, with longer wings, than other flycatchers. They lack the eye-rings of the Empidonax species, while they’re less brown (with stronger wing-bars) than a Phoebe. With a careful look, they’re quite distinctive. [All About Birds]
Eastern Wood-Pewee Facts [All About Birds]
- When several flycatcher species live in the same forest, the Eastern Wood-Pewee tends to forage higher in the trees than the Least and Acadian Flycatchers, but lower than the Great Crested Flycatcher.
- The Eastern Wood-Pewee’s lichen-covered nest is so inconspicuous that it often looks like a knot on a branch.
- The Eastern Wood-Pewee and Western Wood-Pewee have different calls but are nearly impossible to tell apart by eye. Their breeding ranges overlap in a very narrow zone in the Great Plains. Researchers have found no evidence that the two species interbreed in that area.
- The oldest recorded Eastern Wood-Pewee was at least 8 years, 2 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland in 2010.