Mariton: Eastern Wood-Pewee

July 29, 2021

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus, Volunteer.

Photo by Carole Mebus.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

During summer’s dog days, I can usually find some relief in Mariton’s shaded forest.  It may still be hot and muggy, but the trees seem to take the edge from the stickiness.  And when all the other birds seem to shut up, I can count on the Eastern Wood -Pewee to sing its song.  This bird seems to say its own name, adding a syllable into the mix:  pee-a-wee.  The first syllable descends, and the last note rises.

Photo by Carole Mebus.

Notice the triangular beak and “feeler” feathers at the edges.

The Pewee is a Flycatcher that lives in the woods.  Like other birds in the flycatcher family, Pewee’s have a flattish triangular beak.  Besides the beak shape, you will also see in Carole’s photo above some feathers sticking out at the edge of the beak.  Flycatchers often perch on a branch and fly out to grab flying insects.  I’ve watched them return many times to the same perch after they fly out a few yards and grab an insect.    Those beak feathers act as “feelers” that sense the proximity of a flying insect.  The beak gets wider and is the perfect catching trap as the Pewee bears down on its moving prey.  Besides adding its music to the summer woods, I love to watch Pewees at work.

Photo by Carole Mebus.

You can really see the triangular beak in this photo.