Our Evening Pewee

On the past few evenings, an eastern wood pewee has appeared in our central Missouri yard, drawn to a dead snag on an aging tuliptree.  This rather nondescript, medium-sized flycatcher is a common summer resident across the eastern U.S., where it is best observed in open woodlands, along forest margins or in riparian groves.

Hunting from the end of a dead branch, eastern wood pewees make frequent sorties, flying out to snare an insect and then returning to its perch.  This characteristic activity, combined with the flycatcher's distinctive "pee-a-wee" call, make identification easy despite its many similar (though less common) cousins.

Current evidence suggests that eastern wood pewees are monogamous and share feeding duties; a cup-shaped nest, covered with lichens, is placed in the mid canopy of a deciduous tree and 2-4 eggs are generally produced.  By late summer, the parents and their offspring migrate independently, heading for the forests and woodlands of northern South America where they winter alone.