Scientific Name: Contopus virens
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
The Eastern Wood-pewee is a small forest bird about the same size as a House Sparrow. Both sexes have similar plumage, being generally greyish-olive on the upperparts and pale on the underparts. This species is often observed perched in an upright position typical of flycatchers. It is distinguished from its ‘confusing’ Empidonax flycatcher cousins by its larger size, lack of an eye-ring, and longer and more pointed wings. During the breeding season, the most reliable way to detect and identify the Eastern Wood-pewee is by hearing its distinctive, clear, three-phrased whistled song, often paraphrased as “pee-ah-wee.” (Updated 2017/08/10)
The breeding range of the Eastern Wood-pewee covers much of south-central and eastern North America. It breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan to the Maritime provinces, south to southeastern Texas and east to the U.S. Atlantic coast. About 11% of its global breeding range is in Canada, which accounts for about 8% of the breeding population.
It winters primarily in northern South America, mainly from northwestern Colombia and northeastern Venezuela south to southern Peru, northern Bolivia and Amazonian Brazil. (Updated 2017/08/10)
In Canada, the Eastern Wood-pewee is mostly associated with the mid-canopy layer of forest clearings and edges of deciduous and mixed forests. It is most abundant in forest stands of intermediate age and in mature stands with little understory vegetation.
During migration, a variety of habitats are used, including forest edges, early successional clearings, and primary and secondary lowland (and submontane) tropical forest, as well as cloud forest. In South America in the winter, the species primarily uses open forest, shrubby habitats, and edges of primary forest. It also occurs in interior forests where tree-fall gaps are present. (Updated 2017/08/10)
The Eastern Wood-pewee is considered monogamous, but polygyny sometimes occurs. In Canada, adults arrive on the breeding grounds mostly from mid-May to the end of May. Pair formation and nest building start soon after arrival. Nests are usually located on top of a horizontal limb in a living tree at heights between 2 and 21 m. Clutch size averages 3 eggs. Incubation lasts about 12 to 13 days, and nestlings fledge after about 16 to 18 days. Up to two broods can be produced per year. Generation time is estimated to be 2-3 years. (Updated 2017/08/10)
Threats and limiting factors affecting Eastern Wood-pewees have not been clearly identified and are poorly known, largely because of a lack of research. Possible threats and limiting factors have been suggested as including: 1) loss and degradation of habitat quality on the breeding grounds due to urban development and/or changes in forest management; 2) loss and/or degradation of habitat on the wintering grounds; 3) large-scale changes in the availability of flying-insect prey due to unknown causes; 4) high rates of mortality during migration and/or on the wintering grounds); 5) high rates of nest predation from increasing numbers of avian predators; and 6) changes in forest structure due to White-tailed Deer over-browsing. (Updated 2017/08/10)
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The Eastern Wood-pewee is a small forest bird about the same size as a House Sparrow. Both sexes have similar plumage, being generally greyish-olive on the upperparts and pale on the underparts. This species is often observed perched in an upright position typical of flycatchers. It is distinguished from its ‘confusing’ Empidonax flycatcher cousins by its larger size, lack of an eye-ring, and longer and more pointed wings. During the breeding season, the most reliable way to detect and identify the Eastern Wood-pewee is by hearing its distinctive, clear, three-phrased whistled song, often paraphrased as “pee-ah-wee”.
This species is one of the most common and widespread songbirds associated with North America’s eastern forests. While the species is apparently resilient to many kinds of habitat changes, like most other long-distance migrants that specialize on a diet of flying insects, it has experienced persistent declines over the past 40 years both in Canada and the United States. The 10-year rate of decline (25%) comes close to satisfying the criteria for Threatened. The causes of the decline are not understood, but might be linked to habitat loss or degradation on its wintering grounds in South America or changes in availability of insect prey. If the population declines continue to persist, the species may become Threatened in the foreseeable future.
Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP) is located in southeastern Georgian Bay in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. Georgian Bay is home to the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, the 30,000 Islands, and the park acts as a southern gateway into this area. Comprising 63 dispersed islands and shoals the total area of the park is 14 km2 from the Centennial Group in the south to McQuade Island 50 kilometres northward. Situated just 150 km from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), GBINP is within a half-day’s drive for millions of Canadians. Created in 1929 it is Canada’s smallest national park straddling two natural regions and forms a core protected area of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. The park lies on the edge of the Canadian Shield and is home to both northern and southern plants and animals. The islands are renowned for the variety of reptiles and amphibians they support. The park also has significant cultural value, having been occupied continuously for over 5,500 years.
Maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity is the first priority of national parks (Canada National Parks Act s.8(2)). Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are therefore protected by existing national park regulations and management regimes. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) prohibitions protecting individuals and residences apply automatically when a species is listed, and all critical habitat in national parks and national historic sites must be legally protected within 180 days of being identified.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (KNP and NHS), including Kejimkujik National Park Seaside. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA (s.47)) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur within these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at KNP and NHS.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada and associated National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the four sites: Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada (KNP) and other land managed by Parks Canada in the Northern New-Brunswick Field Unit offering adequate habitat for the species targeted in this action plan (Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site of Canada (NHS), Beaubassin – Fort Lawrence NHS, Grand-Pré NHS). The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA) (s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in KNP and associated NHS.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Pukaskwa National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the park. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at Pukaskwa National Park (PNP).
The Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada is a Species At Risk Act action plan (SARA s.47) for four species: American Water-willow (Justicia americana), Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 30 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the status of the species set out in the annexed schedule.
Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem can lead to a loss of individuals and species resulting in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 19
Data Deficient: 4
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Endangered or Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 518 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments by
March 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations
October 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.