The Eastern Wood-PeWee is one of many flycatchers that make a living in our part of the country. I have a great fondness for flycatchers because they tend to remain still for a bit which makes it easier for an amateur photographer to get focused in to snap off a few shots. Their hunting style places them on a wire, a fence post or barren branch while they evaluate the area for insects. Once they fly to nab the bug, sometimes hovering over it in some form or fashion before making the grab, they often will return to the original perching location to begin the progress again. That makes photographing these special birds more exciting.
The problem with the flycatchers, however, is that many of them look very similar. This is not just an artifact of my birding inexperience. Even the bird guides discuss this problem – especially with the genus Empidonax. Fortunately, the Eastern Wood-Pewee doesn’t belong to that genus (rather it’s a Contopus.) But, it can still be confusing for me to decipher between a Wood-Pewee and an Eastern Phoebe or even a Willow Flycatcher, which does belong to Empidonax.
After a bit of self teaching, I am able to distinguish the vocalization of the Wood-PeWee, and that is the only reason why I feel fairly confident that the bird I’m posting here (which I filmed yesterday) is actually a Wood-PeWee. I first saw it fly to a barren branch of a Ponderosa Pine tree. I’m not certain if the second bird that I’m adding below it he same bird or another. I was hearing the calls from across the Pond Meadow – I believe I heard three different individuals as I was filming the first bird.
DISCLAIMER: I could be wrong, and if so, please feel free to correct me!
Here is the second bird that I was able to film a bit closer than the first.
Here’s a short recording of the vocalizations. The bird guides described it as pee-a-wee! I guess that’s where it gets its name!