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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Western Wood-Pewee -- Contopus sordidulus


RANGE: Breeds from east-central Alaska, southern Yukon, and southern Mackenzie to northwestern Minnesota, south to Mexico, and east to western South Dakota, western Kansas, and western Texas. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs in a variety of habitats including open deciduous and coniferous montane forests, pine-oak woodlands, floodplain forests, and wooded canyons. Found from sea level to the tops of coastal ranges, in cultivated stream valleys, in deciduous trees along borders of lakes and streams, in cities and towns, and in open, mature pine forests. It is generally adapted to drier environments than the eastern wood-pewee, and uses areas dominated by conifers.

NEST: Locates nest on a horizontal limb or fork, dead or live, in a large variety of trees, usually deciduous, generally 15 to 40 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Catches most of its food by hawking from a perch such as a dead branch. Eats insects, spiders, and a few wild berries.

REFERENCES: Beal 1912, Harrison 1979, Johnsgard 1979, Terres 1980.


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