06.09.24: Perched peewee

An Eastern Wood-Peewee is an olive-gray bird with dark wings, and little to no yellow on the underparts (unlike several other varieties of flycatchers). 

Flycatcher varieties hard to identify

Birds belonging to the various species in the flycatcher family are a nightmare to identify. Many of the species look so similar that it is difficult to tell an Eastern Phoebe from an Eastern Wood-Peewee or a Willow Flycatcher or a Least Flycatcher or a number of others.

I often have to post a new flycatcher photo to my favorite identification source— BirdForum.net— and let the experts there decide. And even then it can spark a debate.

It’s not easy.

This is a photo of an Eastern Wood-Peewee. I was somewhat confident in that identification when I posted it to the forum for confirmation. The folks there agreed with little debate, which often isn’t the case on flycatchers photos. 

An Eastern Wood-Peewee is an olive-gray bird with dark wings, and little to no yellow on the underparts (unlike several other varieties of flycatchers).  The sides of the breast are dark with an off-white throat and belly, giving a vested appearance typical of pewees. They show little or no eyering, another characteristic that helps distinguish between varieties of flycatchers. 

So this fits the description of an Eastern Wood-Peewee.

But it’s also similar to an online description of an Eastern Phoebe: "The Eastern Phoebe is brownish-gray above and off-white below, with a dusky wash to the sides of the breast. The head is typically the darkest part of the upperparts. Birds in fresh fall plumage show faint yellow on the belly and whitish edging on the folded wing feathers.”

And descriptions for several other flycatchers are similar.

I found this bird resting on a broken limb deep in the woods in a Central Ohio park.  I liked how light breaking through the canopy illuminated the bird, helping to separate it from the defocused forest background.

An Eastern Wood-Peewee perches on top of a broken limb in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

An Eastern Wood-Peewee perches on top of a broken limb in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Aug 4, 2012 9:34 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 
  • Focal length: 840mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/200 second
  • ISO: 3200

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