Eastern Wood-pewee

Hey guys welcome back! Every birder has their group of birds that give them trouble. For some, it’s warblers, for others it’s sparrows. For me it’s…. shorebirds, but flycatchers are right up there! There are many species of flycatcher identifiable primarily on call. Today’s bird isn’t one of those flycatchers (we’ll get to them, don’t worry), but it also isn’t a super distinct bird either. Today, the eastern wood-pewee.

Eastern wood-pewee, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, Mentor, OH

The range of the eastern wood pewee looks as though you asked someone to draw a vertical line right through the dead center of the continental US and color in the eastern half. They do have a western counterpart (the, get this, western wood-pewee), and the two overlap along a very narrow strip. They are essentially identical in appearance, but make different calls. Speaking of their call, the eastern wood-pewee is a bird that says it’s name. Their call sounds a bit like pee-a-wee! One of the few occasions I can actually hear the mnemonic. They are fairly common flycatchers of the mid-to-upper canopy throughout the summer and are often heard before they’re seen. When you do see them, look for a gray bird with a buff to dusky white belly and two wingbars. They have a large head like all flycatchers, and a more lanky body than the genus empidonax (AKA the confusing flycatchers.)

Eastern wood-pewee, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

The eastern wood-pewee and the eastern phoebe are probably the two most common eastern flycatchers, so if you can get used to them and good at IDing them, then any other flycatcher will stick out, and you’ll know to investigate further! Get familiar with their song, and once you’re tuned into it, you’ll be amazed just how often you actually hear it. It’s pretty cool actually! This is actually the case of our next bird as well. Come back next time for the cedar waxwing. See you then!

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