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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Eastern Wood-Pewee

Air Date: Week of

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Photo: CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Eastern Wood-Pewee is inconspicuous, but its plaintive whistle is unmistakable in the woodlands of east North America. As forests have declined so have the Pewee, and Mary McCann reports that wildlife managers are now trying to save this iconic voice.



Almost every natural ecosystem faces threats these days from human activity.
And as Mary McCann explains in today’s BirdNote®, wildlife managers say a once common and rather inconspicuous woodland flycatcher is now of concern.


Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Deciduous Forests

[Slurred, whistled “pee-ah-wee” of Eastern Wood-Pewee; repeat]

MCCANN: Each year, by mid-May, a plaintive, whistled song carries through the forests of eastern North America. It is the voice of the Eastern Wood-Pewee, returned to nest after a winter sojourn in South America.

[“Pee-ah-wee” of Eastern Wood-Pewee]

(Photo: Greg Lavaty)

An Eastern Wood-Pewee perches inconspicuously in the shady interior of the forest. Inconspicuous, that is, until it sallies out to snatch a flying insect. Or until it offers up that unmistakable song.

[“Pee-ah-wee” of Eastern Wood-Pewee]

But for the past 25 years, the number of Eastern Wood-Pewees has fallen, across much of the bird’s range. How is it that even a once-common bird can decline so steadily? Fragmentation of forests into ever smaller tracts, as well as forest disturbance — such as heavy browsing by overabundant White-tailed Deer — are part of the problem. So is the loss of forest in the bird’s South American winter range. As a result, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is now a species of high conservation concern.

[“Pee-ah-wee” of Eastern Wood-Pewee]

What practices can help stem the decline of Eastern Wood-Pewees and other forest birds? Well, providing economic incentives for private landowners who save forests is one. Enacting policies that promote smart growth and curb urban sprawl is another.

[“Pee-ah-wee” of Eastern Wood-Pewee]
I’m Mary McCann.

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Call of the Eastern Wood-Pewee provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York and recorded by G.A. Keller LNS 73930. The fly was recorded by G.F. Budney. Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010/2016 Tune In to Nature.org Narrator: Mary McCann


CURWOOD: There are pictures over at our website, LOE.org.



Listen to the original story on the BirdNote® website



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