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Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus


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Western Wood-Pewee
credit: Jerry Friedman/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has dark gray-brown upperparts overall. Wings and tail are mostly blackish, but note pale wing bars and pale fringes to secondaries and tertials. Underparts are graybrown overall, palest on throat and grading to whitish on belly and vent. JUVENILE Similar, but brighter-looking with buffy wing bars and fringes to inner flight feathers.

Dimensions Length: 6 1/2" (17 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common, but declining summer visitor (mainly May-Sep) to open woodland. Winters in northern South America.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range California, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Alaska, Plains, Western Canada, New England, Northwest

Voice Utters a piercing, downslurred psee-err.

Similar Species Eastern Wood-pewee C. virens (L 6-6.5 in) is almost identical; separate using summer range (much of eastern North America, barely overlapping with Western's range) and song (tri-syllabic pee-err-wee). Plumage is paler than Western, with more obvious wing bars, and orange on lower mandible.

Discussion Slimmer and longer-tailed than Olive-sided Flycatcher, with more pronounced wing bars and uniformly olive-brown breast (without central white line bordered by dark "vest"). Compared to Willow and Alder Flycatchers, darker overall, with less striking wing bars and relatively longer wings (extending well beyond rump when perched). Legs are dark and bill is mostly dark, but with dull orange base to lower mandible. Makes aerial sorties after flying insects, from perch at mid-tree level (lower than Olivesided Flycatcher). Sexes are similar.