Contopus Virens – Eastern Wood-Pewee

Contopus Virens - Eastern Wood-Pewee found in the Eastern US

The eastern wood pewee, Contopus virens is a tiny North American tyrant flycatcher. Previously, this bird and the western wood pewee were treated as a single species. Both species are nearly identical in appearance and are most easily distinguished by their cries.

Quick Overview: Contopus virens – Eastern Wood-Pewee
Body size: Around 6.25 in (16 cm) and a weight of 14 g (0.5 oz).
Main colors: Gray, Olive, Yellow, White, Black, Brown, Orange-Yellow
Range: Eastern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Eastern Wood-Pewee Description

They are coated in grayish feathers with olive and yellow highlights and have white and gray wing bars. Their beak is black or dark brown at the tips and orange-yellow at the base.

Contopus Virens - Eastern Wood-Pewee found in the Eastern US
Contopus Virens – Eastern Wood-Pewee. Photo by: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren


These birds have a length of 6.25 in (16 cm) and a weight of 14 g (0.5 oz). Their wings could range from 10.5 in (27 cm).


Flies (Diptera), true bugs (Hemiptera), butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), bees (Hymenoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera), and mayflies are the insects that eastern wood-pewees prefer to devour (Ephemeroptera).


Their breeding habitat in eastern North America is deciduous, mixed woodlands, or pine plantations. They move to Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America’s Andes region. They are omnivorous, feeding on insects and other arthropods.


Eastern wood-pewees is a diurnal, sociable species, with males attacking other males when their song rhythm is altered. Male eastern wood pewees are extremely territorial, especially during the breeding season; males may assist females in raising two nests at the same time.

Contopus Virens Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Contopus
  • Species: Contopus virens

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Eastern Wood-Pewee in the USA

Breeds along the eastern Great Plains and along the Atlantic coast, from southern Canada to northern Florida, the Gulf Coast, and central Texas. Tropical winters.

The Eastern Wood-Pewee can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Contopus Virens – Eastern Wood-Pewee

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