Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Western Wood-pewee (Contopus sordidulus)


French: Pioui de l’Ouest German: Blasskehl-Schnäppertyrann Spanish: Pibí occidental

Contopus sordidulus

P. L. Sclater

, 1859,

Orizaba, Mexico


Has been considered conspecific with C. virens. Geographical variation subtle, size increasing towards N, colour becoming richer in moist environments such as Pacific NW. Proposed races siccicola (Idaho, USA) and amplus (Montana, USA) merged with veliei, and griscomi (Guerrero, Mexico) with nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. saturatus Bishop, 1900 – SE Alaska and NW & W Canada S in USA to W Oregon; winters NW South America (probably mainly Colombia and Venezuela).
  • C. s. veliei Coues, 1866 – E Alaska S through interior mainly to N & C Mexico (N Baja California and S to Michoacán and Puebla), E in USA to N & W Great Plains states and S to W Texas; winters probably W South America (S possibly to Peru, Bolivia and perhaps N Argentina).
  • C. s. peninsulae Brewster, 1891 – W Mexico (S Baja California); winters probably NW South America.
  • C. s. sordidulus P. L. Sclater, 1859 – highlands of Mexico (Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas) S at least to Honduras, possibly to NC Nicaragua and Costa Rica; winters S to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; 12–14 g. Nominate race has peaked crown dark greyish-brown, faint paler lores, indistinct thin eyering (sometimes lacking); head side, nape and... read more


    Song, typically by territorial male, a harsh burry and descending “pee-er”, “... read more


    Variety of semi-open deciduous, coniferous and mixed woodland habitats, forest edge and riparian... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, rarely also spiders; fruit taken rarely. Insects include dipterans, hymenopterans, coleopterans, lepidopterans (adults, rarely... read more


    Early May to late Aug. Compact nest cup made of woven grass, plant fibres, bark, plant down, feathers, animal hair, moss, insect puparia... read more


    Medium-distance to long-distance migrant, wintering in South America. Departs breeding grounds... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to uncommon. Global population estimated at 9,700,000 individuals. Survey data for Canada and USA show that this species decreased by 1... read more

    Recommended citation

    Farnsworth, A. & Lebbin, D. (2019). Western Wood-pewee (Contopus sordidulus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 December 2019).