The Eastern Wood Pewee, Contopus virens, is a small tyrant flycatcher from North America. This bird and the Western Wood Pewee were formerly considered to be a single species. The two species are virtually identical in appearance, and can be distinguished most easily by their calls.
The Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is highly similar, particularly in the worn plumage after breeding. It always lacks clearly-defined wing-bands however, bobs its tail frequently, and in fresh plumage has a marked buffy hue to the belly. The Eastern Phoebe is also present on the breeding grounds by early-mid April and building nests weeks before the Eastern Wood Pewees arrive. They are hardest to tell apart when they leave for winter quarters, as the phoebes have very worn plumage by then, and both species migrate south around September. The songs are similar, but that of the Eastern Phoebe lacks the short middle note.
The Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) is almost identical to the Eastern Wood Pewee in plumage, but a bit more dusky (though it also has the crisp wing-bars) and most importantly distincly smaller.
Eastern Wood Pewees arrive late in their in their breeding range and stay just as long as it takes to raise a single brood. They are rarely seen on their breeding grounds before the last days of April. They migrate south at a more usual time, leaving sometimes in late August but most often in September. Migration times have stayed the same in the last 100 years.
The eggs hatch in 12-14 days and both parents bring food to the hatchlings, which are not precocious. The hatchlings are pink initially but soon start to grow feathers that are brownish-grey in color and help the hatchlings blend in with their surroundings. The hatchlings typically fledge 15-17 days after hatching; often ending up on the ground during the first flight out of the nest. The adults will perch on a nearby branch and call out to the hatchlings, keeping contanct and providing them with food until the young are able to fly to join them. Young pewees one finds on the ground are thus usually not abandoned by their parents even if these appear absent - they are simply keeping a low profile, attempting to avoid drawing attention to their young. Young birds may indeed be abandoned by their parent, but only if the offspring are sick and dying. Such birds have no real chance to survive even if taken in human care.
Vocal distinctiveness and information coding in a suboscine with multiple song types: Eastern Wood-Pewee.(SHORT COMMUNICATIONS)(Report)
Dec 01, 2011; Numerous studies demonstrate that oscine songs are individually distinctive and can be used to identify individuals based on song...
Nature Canada Responds to Latest Wildlife Assessments with Call for Strong Federal Action to Protect At-Risk Species
Dec 03, 2012; OTTAWA, ON -- The following information was released by Nature Canada: Nature Canada reacted today to the latest wildlife status...