Contopus sordidulus
(Western Wood-pewee)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Tyrannidae
Family Description: Tyrant Flycatchers

Physical Description:
Size: 6-6.5" (15-17cm). Dark olive-gray above and lighter gray below. slightly crested head. Lacks eye-ring. Two distinct white wing bars.

Similar Species- Empidonax flycatchers have white eye rings, rounder heads and longer tails. Easily separated by call.

A strong peee-a-wheeet! slurring up to the last syllable. Also a down-slurred peeer! Calls incessantly.

Breeds from east-central Alaska, south through western Canada to western U.S., southern Baja California, interior highlands of Mexico, and portions of Central America. Winters mainly in Colombia and Venezuela, south to Peru and Bolivia, and casually to Costa Rica.

Found in forests and forest edges and woodlands (especially coniferousClick word for definition or mixed coniferous/deciduousClick word for definition forests), and in poplar or riparianClick word for definition woodlands. Idaho study found preference for open canopy in cottonwood forest with willow subcanopy.

Feeds on wide variety of insects including bees, wasps, ants, and flies.

Builds concealed nest in tree at end of branch. Hunts from perch. Idaho study conducted in cottonwood forests indicated pewees were more strongly associated with agricultural landscapes compared to more natural landscapes and avoided campground areas.

Breeding begins in early May in southern range, to early June in north. Female incubatesClick word for definition 3 eggs (sometimes 2-4), for about 12 days.

Element Code: ABPAE32050
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5B

Important State References:
Saab, V.A. 1996. Influences of spatial scale and land-use practices on habitat relationships of breeding birds in cottonwood riparian forests. Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. Colorado, Boulder. 140 pp.

Photos by C. S. Robbins and George Jameson, ©2002
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.