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Greater Pewee

These flycatchers are common in Mexico and southern parts of the U.S.

While it is a year-round resident in Central America and much of Mexico, the Greater Pewee is migratory in its southwestern U.S. breeding range.  Highly territorial during the breeding season, and sometimes on winter feeding grounds as well, the Greater Pewee uses both vocalizations and physical interactions to defend its territories.

Much remains to be learned about the life and ecology of Greater Pewees. It is assumed that they breed at age one, and that they may live to be six or seven years old, but further study is needed. Both inclement weather and predators can result in nesting failures.


Description of the Greater Pewee


The Greater Pewee is a long-tailed flycatcher with olive upperparts, faintly olive underparts, a small crest, and an orange lower mandible.

Greater Pewee


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adults but yellower below and has tawny wing bars.


Pine and pine-oak forests.



Greater Pewee

Photographs © Greg Lavaty


Forages by watching from a perch and flying out to capture flying insects.


Breeds in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and winters in Mexico.

Fun Facts

Greater Pewees are aggressive in nest defense, chasing jays, squirrels, and other potential threats.

Greater Pewees defend large territories form other Greater Pewees. These can range in size from 17 to nearly 50 acres.


A whistle that can be interpreted as a five-syllable “ho-say-maria”.


Similar Species


The nest is cup of grass, weeds, and other plant materials placed in the fork of a branch.

Number: 3-4.
Color: White with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
?- Young hatch at 8-12 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) at an unknown age but remain with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Greater Pewee

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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