Eastern Wood-Pewee

eastern wood-pewee One of the hallmark species of the Eastern deciduous forest, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is an inconspicuous dull brown bird of the middle canopy. Despite its abundance, this bird could be easily overlooked if not for its persistent “pee-ah-wee” song.

Keys to identification

Typical Voice

[audio:http://www.backyardnaturalist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/381A.mp3|titles=Eastern Wood-Pewee] range map of eastern wood-pewee

  • Size

    Eastern Wood-Pewees are about 6.3 inches (16 cm).in length.

  • Color Pattern

    The plumage of the adult Eastern Wood-Pewee is generally dark grayish olive above with dull white throat, darker breast; whitish or pale yellow underparts. Tje bill has black upper mandible and dull orange lower mandible, usually with a limited black tip. Long wings extend one-third of the way down the tail. It is very similar to the western wood-pewee, but spring and early summer adults are usually more olive with less extensive breast band (often produce vested appearance) and a pale smooth gray nape that contrasts slightly. The wing bars are often broader and more contrasty. Adults molt on the wintering grounds, and worn summer birds (and fall birds in North America) are essentially identical to the western wood-pewee in appearance. During fall, the juveniles are separated from worn adults by fresh plumage, buff-gray wing bars, and brownish wash to the upperparts. Many have more extensive dark coloration to lower mandible and appear more like the western wood-pewee. On average, the wing bars stand out more than on the western wood-pewee, with the upper and lower wing bars the same color and prominence (unlike the western, which usually has a less noticeable upper wing bar).

  • Behavior

    The Easter Wood-Pewee normally feeds in typically flycatcher fashion, observing from a perch, and flying out to snag insects in mid-air once they’re spotted. They will also hover near vegetation and pick off insects on foliage.

  • Habitat

    The Eastern Wood-Pewee can be spotted in deciduous forests during the summer breeding season, although they will also use mixed forest. They are normally found in and around forest openings and edges. This bird winters in partially cleared, shrubby habitats and secondary forests. Like other flycatchers, its food consists almost wholly of winged insects taken in the air.

  • Fact

    One potential cause of the decline of Eastern Wood-Pewee populations is the overpopulation of white-tailed deer in the Eastern forests. In areas with high deer density, the intermediate canopy is disturbed by browsing, affecting the foraging space of the flycatcher.