Western Wood-pewee Nest

Western wood-pewees (Contopus sordidulus) are small, greyish-brown flycatchers. Leonard and I noticed several western wood-pewees while walking along a old logging trail in Widow Valley near Lookout CA (Modoc County). The birds would sit on an exposed perch watching for prey. After capturing an insect, the pewees would usually fly into a nearby ponderosa pine. After much observation we finally noticed a nest in the pine.

Western wood-pewees form monogamous pairs for the breeding season. Their nests are sited on a horizontal tree branch, well out from the trunk. The nest is usually 15 to 40 feet above the ground and from below or the side resembles a bump or knot on the branch. The female probably builds the flat, open cup made of grass, plant fiber, plant down and bark bound together with spiderwebs. The nest is lined with soft grasses and feathers and camouflaged on the outside with grey mosses, leaves, lichen, bud scales and insect skins.

There are usually 3 whitish eggs with brown and lavender blotches, often concentrated toward the larger end. The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 15 days. Both parents feed the young. The female will often stand on the rim of the nest to shade the nestlings and watch for predators. About 14 to 18 days after hatching the young birds fledge.

More information about western wood-pewees is in my 08-19-2012 post entitled “Western Wood-pewee”.


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