Tyrant Flycatchers

Greater Pewee

The Greater Pewee, Contopus pertinax, is a passerine bird. It is a medium-sized tyrant flycatcher.


Adults are dark olive on the face, upperparts and flanks. They have dull gray underparts, a large dark bill and a short tail. Birds often show a narrow, pointed crest.

Distribution / Range:

Greater Pewees are regularly found from southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico in the United States to central Guatemala in Central America. They have been recorded as vagrants to southern California and western and southernmost Texas.

These birds are partial migrants. They retreat from northernmost breeding territories in the USA and northern Mexico for the winter.

Breeding / Nesting:

Their preferred breeding habitat are pine-oak woodlands of mountains and other upper elevations from 750-3500 meters. The female usually lays 2-4 eggs in a shallow open cup nest on a horizontal tree branch. The male defends a large area around the nesting territory. Both parents feed the young birds.

Diet / Feeding:

They wait on a perch at the top of a tree and fly out to catch insects in flight.

Call / Vocalization:

The song is a whistled ho-say ma-ri-a. The call is a rapid repeated pip pip pip.

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