Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wrangling The Wood-Pewee

A little flycatcher has been visiting my back yard recently, perching on the utility wires, alertly snapping up hapless insects flying by.  

It certainly was a Wood-Pewee, but which one? They are virtually identical; well at least they are to me.

One morning, the bird was back out fly-catching from a favoured spot on a utility wire to my house.  I watched, and then heard a clear, sweet peee'yer.   Exactly the same sound as the first part of the usual two-part Eastern's song.  

And to be 'sure', I listened to several versions of the Western's song on various bird sound CDs and on-line sources.  Very different sounds, quite burry and more robust.

All right!  My bird is an Eastern!

Ah, but then I started to have my doubts shortly after posting my 'positive idenitifcation' on Facebook.   (Isn't that annoying!)

The bird continued to fly-catch around my yard, but less frequently and I began to hear a distinctly burry "whjeeeer" in the distance of a neighbour's yard when the bird wasn't present in mine.  Okay, that is a Western Wood-Pewee singing.


Could both species be here?  Yes,  I live in the over-lap part of their ranges,  in the SE corner of Saskatchewan.  I often see and hear the Eastern bird down along the river.  The Westerns....not often right in this area.

See range maps below.

This morning, thinking I should really do something or other with  this blog post (I had loaded the photos last week), I pulled out one of my many field guides just to have another consideration of my little mystery bird.  And there, at the bottom of the description of the Western Wood-Pewee, Ted Floyd has remarked in the Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America:
Song generally distinct from Eastern; a down-slurred jeeer, much harsher than Eastern.  At any time of year, can give sweet peeya notes, recalling Eastern  (my underscore emphasis).
So, I think my little bird above is a Western Wood-Pewee....or not.....could be two different birds, but I don't think so.  Frankly, I don't recall having either one as yard birds before.

All the fly-catchers give me a headache!

Range Maps (courtesy of All About Birds)

Eastern Wood-Pewee Range Map 
Western Wood-Pewee Range Map

Information sources:

All About Birds 
Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. But what the heck they're both cute little busy buggers....:)