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Overview

Brief Summary

Contopus virens

A sparrow-sized (6-6 ½ inches) flycatcher, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is most easily identified by its size, gray-green body, and white wing bars. Other field marks include a light breast, black legs, and shallowly-notched tail. Male and female Eastern Wood-Pewees are similar to one another in all seasons. The Eastern Wood-Pewee breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. In summer this species may be found west to the Great Plains and south to northern Florida. All Eastern Wood-Pewees migrate south in winter, when they may be found in northern South America. Eastern Wood-Pewees breed in a variety of forest habitats, including forests with deciduous trees, evergreen trees, or a mix of both. This species may be found in more open habitats during migration, and spends the winter along the edges of humid tropical forests. Like most flycatchers, the Eastern Wood-Pewee primarily eats insects, which it catches while in flight. In eastern forests in summer, the Eastern Wood-Pewee may be most easily observed flying out from high perches to capture insect prey. This species may also be observed on a high perch singing its characteristic ‘pee-a-wee’ song. Eastern Wood-Pewees are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern

  • Contopus virens. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • McCarty, John P. 1996. Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/245
  • Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
  • eBird Range Map - Eastern Wood-Pewee. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: southeastern Saskatchewan east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia; south to Texas, Gulf Coast, and central Florida; west to central North Dakota, central South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, western Oklahoma, and east Texas and Edwards Plateau (McCarty 1996). NON-BREEDING: Colombia and Venezuela south to southern Peru, northern Bolivia, and western Brazil, rarely north to Costa Rica (Hilty and Brown 1986, McCarty 1996).

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Range

Breeds e North America; winters to n Bolivia and w Brazil.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 16 cm

Weight: 14 grams

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Type Information

Type for Contopus virens
Catalog Number: USNM 111270
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): C. Townsend
Year Collected: 1887
Locality: Swan Island, = Isla Grande, Isla Grande, Swan Islands, North America
  • Type: Ridgway. August 6, 1888. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 10: 576.
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Type for Contopus virens
Catalog Number: USNM 111270
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): C. Townsend
Year Collected: 1887
Locality: Swan Island, = Isla Grande, Isla Grande, Swan Islands, North America
  • Type: Ridgway. August 6, 1888. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 10: 576.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: BREEDING: Inhabits a wide variety of wooded upland and lowland habitats including deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forests (Bond 1957, McCarty 1996). Occurs most frequently in forests with some degree of openness, whether it be the result of forest structure, natural disturbance, or human alteration (Palmer-Ball 1996). Intermediate-aged forests with a relatively sparse midstory are preferred (Crawford et al. 1981, Johnston and Odum 1956). Territories in such forests can be equally abundant under both an open or closed canopy (Johnston 1971). However, under some circumstances may be absent from closed-canopied forests (Hespenheide 1971). Tends to inhabit edges of younger forests having a relatively dense midstory (Palmer-Ball 1996, Strelke and Dickson 1980). Also occurs in anthropogenic habitats providing an open forested aspect such as parks and suburban neighborhoods (Palmer-Ball 1996). Nest is constructed atop a horizontal branch, 1.2-21.4 meters above the ground, in a wide variety of deciduous and coniferous trees (McCarty 1996, Terres 1991). NON-BREEDING: During migration through Central America, inhabits edges, clearings, and canopy of tall forest to second-growth scrub forest (Blake and Loiselle 1992, Greenberg 1992, Stiles and Skutch 1989). On wintering grounds inhabits secondary forest as well as edges or canopy gaps of primary forest (Fitzpatrick 1980, Pearson 1980, Stotz et al. 1992).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Although there are reports of spring migrants arriving in the United States as early as mid-March (Oberholser 1974, Stevenson and Anderson 1994), most first arrivals occur in April (J. McCarty, pers. comm.). By mid-May, species occurs throughout the breeding range. Fall migration typically begins in mid- to late August, peaks in mid-September, and continues into mid-October. Migrants move through Gulf Coastal Mexico and Central America to wintering grounds in South America. Some individuals cross the Caribbean (McCarty 1996). Migrates through Costa Rica from mid-August to mid-November and from early March to mid-May (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Winters in South America from September through late April (McCarty 1996).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Feeds principally on flying insects captured during sallies from a perch in the canopy or subcanopy; occasionally gleans insects from foliage or the ground (McCarty 1996). The diet of adults in Virginia and West Virginia consisted of insects (Coleoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera [adults, larvae, and pupae], Hymenoptera, Homoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, and spiders (Araneae; Johnston 1971, Sample et al 1993). Examination of 369 stomachs collected from throughout the range contained 99% invertebrates (principally insects) and 1% berries and seeds of dogwood (CORNUS sp.), blueberry (VACCINIUM sp.), blackberry (RUBUS sp.), Poison Ivy (RHUS TOXICODENDRON), and panic grass (PANICUM sp.; Beal 1912 cited in McCarty 1995). Density along prairie streams in Kansas was significantly correlated with emergence of aquatic insects. Chironomids (Diptera) and mayflies (Ephemeroptera) were important prey items (Gray 1993).

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General Ecology

Estimates of population density vary widely. Population density in Arkansas varies from 2-11 individuals/40.5 hectares [0.05-0.27 birds/ha] in uplands forests and from 2-13 individuals/40.5 hectares [0.04-0.32/ha] in bottomland forests, and territorial males are most abundant (25/40.5 hectares or 0.62/ha) in Ozark Mountain cedar glades (James and Neal 1986). Breeding pair density in Connecticut ranges from 0.4-1.7/10 hectares (0.04-0.17/ha; Askins and Philbrick 1987). In Illinois, breeding population density ranges from 1-67 birds/40.5 hectares (0.02-1.65/ha; Graber et al. 1974). In open, mixed pine-hardwood forest in Arkansas, density ranges from 5.2-14.9 birds/ha (Wilson et al. 1995). In Red Oak (QUERCUS RUBRA) forest in the Smoky Mountains, breeding pair density is 1.2/10 hectares (0.12/ha; Wilcove 1988). In three Illinois forest fragments, densities ranged from 0.32-0.86 pairs/ha during a 5-year period (Robinson 1992). In two studies conducted in Illinois, territory size averaged 0.76, 1.09, and 1.17 hectares (range 0.4-1.25) depending upon year of study. Territories were smaller in years of higher populations and larger with lower population densities (Graber et al. 1974). Exhibits breeding site fidelity. For example, 22.2% of individuals banded one year were recaptured the following year on the same net line in the same forest fragment in Illinois (Robinson 1992). Maximum life span is > 7 years (McCarty 1996).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 7.1 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Nesting dates (eggs or young) across the range vary from 6 May-1 September, with earliest nests occurring in the southern states and latest in the northern states and Canada. Later nests may represent renests or multiple broods, but data are lacking. Average clutch size is 3 eggs (range 2-4). Eggs are laid on consecutive days, but beginning of incubation in relation to oviposition is unknown. Incubation, by female only, requires 12-14 days. Young, who are fed by both parents, fledge in 16-18 days. Although multiple clutches/broods have not been documented, they are suspected to occur (McCarty 1996). Nest success (defined as a nest that fledged at least one young) was 100% in four nests studied in managed forests in Minnesota (Hanski et al. 1996) and 100% for seven nests examined in oak-hickory forest in Maryland (Chasko and Gates 1982). Thought to first breed at one year of age (J. McCarty, pers. comm.).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Contopus virens

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.

Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGTATGATTGGTACCGCACTAAGCCTCCTTATTCGAGCAGAACTTGGTCAGCCAGGAACTCTCCTAGGAGACGATCAAATTTACAACGTAATCGTTACCGCCCATGCCTTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCCATTATAATTGGAGGATTTGGCAACTGACTAGTCCCTCTAATAATTGGCGCTCCTGACATAGCATTCCCTCGTATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGATTGCTGCCCCCATCATTTCTCCTCCTCTTAGCCTCCTCCACAGTTGAAGCTGGTGCAGGAACCGGATGAACTGTATATCCACCATTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCACATGCCGGAGCTTCAGTAGACTTAGCTATTTTTTCTCTACACCTTGCAGGTGTCTCCTCAATCCTAGGAGCTATCAACTTTATTACAACTGCAATCAATATGAAACCACCTGCCTTATCACAATACCAAACCCCCTTATTTGTCTGATCCGTCCTAATTACTGCTGTCCTTCTCCTTCTCTCCCTACCAGTACTCGCTGCTGGGATTACTATGCTATTAACGGACCGTAACCTCAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCCGCAGGAGGTGGAGNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Contopus virens

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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