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Species Guide
A photo of a Western Wood Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)
Western Wood Pewee

Western Wood Pewee

Contopus sordidulus

The Western Wood Pewee, Contopus sordidulus, presents itself as a small, unassuming member of the tyrant flycatcher family. Its upperparts are cloaked in a subtle gray-olive hue, while the underparts remain a lighter shade, tinged with an olive wash across the breast. A distinctive feature includes two wing bars, and its bill is dark with a hint of yellow at the base of the lower mandible.

Identification Tips

When endeavoring to identify this elusive bird, look for its gray-olive upperparts contrasted with lighter underparts. The two wing bars are key visual markers, along with the dark bill accented with yellow at the base of the lower mandible. Its size is modest, with a length ranging from 5.5 to 6.3 inches (14-16 cm), a wingspan of about 10.2 inches (26 cm), and a weight between 0.4 and 0.5 ounces (11-14 g).


The Western Wood Pewee is partial to open wooded areas, where it can be found during its breeding season in western North America.


As the seasons turn and summer wanes, these birds embark on a migration to the verdant expanses of South America, leaving their North American breeding grounds behind.


In their natural theatre, Western Wood Pewees are often observed perched at a mid-level height within a tree. From this vantage point, they sally forth in flight to capture insects, a behavior known as hawking. They are also known to hover and delicately pluck insects from vegetation, a technique referred to as gleaning.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Western Wood Pewee includes a loud, buzzy "peeer" call. Its song is a melodic sequence of three rapid descending "tsees" culminating in a descending "peeer."


During the breeding season, the female Western Wood Pewee lays two or three eggs in an open cup nest. These nests are strategically placed on a horizontal tree branch or within a tree cavity, with California black oak forests being among the preferred nesting habitats. Both parents are involved in feeding the young, showcasing a shared commitment to the next generation.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Western Wood Pewee is primarily insectivorous, as evidenced by their adept insect-catching flights and their hovering maneuvers to glean insects from foliage.

Conservation status

The conservation status of the Western Wood Pewee is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that, for now, this species does not face immediate threats to its survival.

Western Wood Pewee Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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