Eastern Wood-Pewee

Contopus virens
Eastern Wood-Pewee specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A sparrow-sized (6-6 ½ inches) flycatcher, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is most easily identified by its size, gray-green body, and white wing bars. Other field marks include a light breast, black legs, and shallowly-notched tail. Male and female Eastern Wood-Pewees are similar to one another in all seasons. The Eastern Wood-Pewee breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. In summer this species may be found west to the Great Plains and south to northern Florida. All Eastern Wood-Pewees migrate south in winter, when they may be found in northern South America. Eastern Wood-Pewees breed in a variety of forest habitats, including forests with deciduous trees, evergreen trees, or a mix of both. This species may be found in more open habitats during migration, and spends the winter along the edges of humid tropical forests. Like most flycatchers, the Eastern Wood-Pewee primarily eats insects, which it catches while in flight. In eastern forests in summer, the Eastern Wood-Pewee may be most easily observed flying out from high perches to capture insect prey. This species may also be observed on a high perch singing its characteristic ‘pee-a-wee’ song. Eastern Wood-Pewees are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common breeding and transient bird, in wood margins, residential areas, and upland deciduous forests. Migrates to this region in May. Nests from late May to mid-September and migrates south in September. Sexes are alike.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17063 Contopus virens (Eastern Wood Pewee)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17131 Contopus virens (Eastern Wood Pewee)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17132 Contopus virens (Eastern Wood Pewee)