Eastern wood pewee waits patiently

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This little bird is a member of a large family of songbirds called flycatchers. It is an eastern wood pewee. Although flycatchers of various kinds and colors are found across much of the world, the eastern wood pewee makes its summer home only in the southeastern quarter of North America. It is a migratory bird and winters in northern South America.

Both male and female are dull gray/brown with whitish undersides. This bird is often overlooked as it sits motionless on an outreaching dead limb waiting to ambush a flying insect. It is most visible when it darts out from its perch to catch an insect and quickly flies back to its perch.

A similar bird that is also a flycatcher is the eastern phoebe, which has an all dark beak. The two birds are similar in size and appearance. Their songs differ. The eastern wood pewee's most notable song sounds like it is saying "pee-uh-wee." The eastern phoebe says "fee-bee fee-bee." Also, the eastern phoebe often bobs its tail while sitting on its perch, while the eastern wood pewee sits motionless only moving its head while looking for a passing flying insect.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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