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Western Wood Pewee - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Joseph V. Higbee
Okanogan Co., Washington, USA, 8 June 2005
Contopus sordidulus


Photo © by 1micalngelo
Story Mill, Montana, 15 June 2020

14-16 cm (5.5-6.3 in)

  • Grey-olive upperparts
  • Dark bill
  • Closed vested appearance
  • Dark cap and slight crest
  • Throat usually gray, sometimes whitish
  • Whitish belly
  • Undertail coverts streaked.
  • Whitish wing-bars fade with wear
  • Long primary projection

Sexes are similar.

Similar Species

Not safely distinguished from Eastern Wood-Pewee except by voice. Olive-sided Flycatcher is larger with heavier bill; has an open vest with faint streaking on the sides; lacks obvious wing-bars; song very different. Greater Pewee lacks vested appearance.


Western North America.


Forms a superspecies with Eastern Wood-Pewee and members of the former Tropical Pewee group.


This is a polytypic species. Four subspecies are currently recognized[1].

  • C. s. saturatus:
Southeast Alaska to western Oregon; winters to northern South America.
  • C. s. veliei:
Eastern Alaska to Texas and northern Mexico; winters to South America.
  • C. s. peninsulae:
Southern Baja California; winters to northwestern South America.
  • C. s. sordidulus:
Highlands of Mexico to Honduras; winters to Peru.


Open wooded areas and orchards.



Perches in the open, sallying out after flying insects and returning to the same perch.


They build an open cup nest and 2-3 eggs are laid. Both parents feed the young.


Includes insects, spiders and berries.


Main song is a down-slurred short burry, nasal "pweer" sung from an exposed perch, and heard throughout the day. Dawn song is a long "peee" followed by two short pip pip notes. Calls include a burry "bzew" and a clear down-slurred "pweew."


Medium-distance to long-distance migrant, wintering in South America.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Bemis, C. and J. D. Rising (2020). Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.wewpew.01
  3. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. Western_Wood_Pewee in: All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/ Accessed on 17May 2020.

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