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Western Wood-pewee

Contopus sordidulus

Length: 6.25 inches Wingspan: 10.5 inches Seasonality: Summer/Migrant
ID Keys:  Plain, with very faint wing-bars, and no eye-ring.  Most safely identified by range and voice.

Western Wood-pewee - Contopus sordidulus The Western Wood-Pewee is a very plain gray bird with few distinguishing marks, and is often only safely identified from similar Flycatchers by it's voice and range.  The eastern equivalent, the Eastern Wood-Pewee, looks almost exactly alike.  While they do overlap in range in a narrow band in the center of the country, it has never been shown that the two species interbreed with each other.  They are normally only found in the western part of South Dakota. 

Habitat: Can be found in a wide variety of open wooded habitats during the summer breeding season, especially cottonwood riparian areas along rivers and streams, groves of aspen and willow, and pine-oak woodlands.  Spends the winter months along forest edges and in second-growth forest in the tropics.

Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on insects, especially flying insects.  Will also occasionally eat berries.

Behavior: Does most foraging by flycatching, sitting on a perch and flying out to catch flying insects.  Does most of its singing at dawn and at dusk.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Soft peeer whistle given year round.  Alternates clear notes with a descending bzeeyeeer on summer breeding grounds. 

Migration: Summers throughout the western half of North America, up through southwest Alaska.  Winters in South America. 

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Western Wood-pewee sightings

Similar Species: Eastern Wood-Pewee

Conservation Status: Still common in many locations, but has shown local declines in California and elsewhere.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Western Wood-Pewee

2) BirdWeb - Western Wood-pewee

3) Audubon Guide - Western Wood-pewee

Photo Information: July 23rd, 2011 - North Cave Hills, Harding County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Western Wood-pewee photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Western Wood-pewee - Range map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident in the Black Hills, somewhat less common in other pine forests of the western part of the state.

Additional Western Wood-pewee Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus