Tropical Pewees or Ash-colored Pewees

The Tropical Pewee, or Ash-colored Pewee, Contopus cinereus, is a small passerine bird in the tyrant flycatcher family.

Distribution / Habitat:

It breeds from southern Mexico and Trinidad south to Bolivia and Argentina.

This pewee is found at the edges of forests and cultivated areas with tall trees.

Nesting / Breeding:

The nest is a small open saucer of fibre and grasses, lined with grass and decorated with lichen on its exterior. It is placed in a tree fork or on a branch.

The female builds the nest and incubates the typical clutch of two creamy-white eggs, which are marked with red-brown spots at the larger end, for 15-16 days to hatching.


The Tropical Pewee is 14 cm long and weighs 12 g. The upperparts are dark brown with a blackish crown and two whitish wing bars. The throat and centre of the breast are whitish, the abdomen is pale yellow, and the sides of the flanks and breast are grey-brown. The bill is short, with a black upper beak and an orange lower beak. Males and females look alike.

Diet / Food:

Tropical Pewees perch on a high watchpoint from which they sally forth to catch flying insects, returning to the same exposed perch.

Call / Song:

This is a conspicuous species, with a trilled threeee call, or a sharp weet. It will defend the nest aggressively against species as large as a Kiskadee.

Photo of author

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