Breeding Bird Atlas 2 Species Accounts
- Nearly ubiquitous and likely increasing
- Action/monitoring needed
Eastern Wood-Pewees are among the more familiar breeding flycatcher species in Massachusetts. They are found throughout the Commonwealth in all but the most closed forests. Due to their preference for foraging in the forest canopy, they are not often seen, and even when seen their appearance is subtle, not flashy. Regardless, their presence in the breeding season is easily ascertained by listening for their plaintive pee-a-wee song, which reverberates through summer woodlands from early June through the end of August.
Historic Status“Steady as she goes" might be the catchphrase for the Eastern Wood-Pewee, the range of which has not changed considerably since the 1890s. Valued for both its song and its insectivorous habits, the pewee was not intentionally persecuted by mankind. However, the widespread changes wrought upon the forests of the Commonwealth have likely caused shifts in pewee distribution. Arthur Cleveland Bent wrote in the early 1940s that the bird was decreasing in eastern Massachusetts (Bent 1942), and Breeding Bird Survey studies started in the 1960s mirror this same trend elsewhere in the Northeast.
Atlas 1 DistributionContrary to what its name might suggest, the Eastern Wood-Pewee was most concentrated in the western part of the state in Atlas 1. The Vermont Piedmont region, with 77% block occupancy, had the lowest proportion of breeding pewees west of the Connecticut River Valley. Most western ecoregions had only 1 or 2 unoccupied blocks, and the Marble Valleys region had 100% block occupancy. The Connecticut River Valley region, as well as the Worcester and Lower Worcester Plateau regions, hovered just below 75% block occupancy. Eastern Wood-Pewees were somewhat scarcer in the Coastal Plains, though they were present in more than half of all blocks. The species also had a similar distribution in the Bristol/Narragansett Lowlands and the Cape and Islands. Only the deforested Boston Basin earned the dubious distinction of having less than 50% pewee block occupancy.
Atlas 2 Distribution and ChangeBy the time of Atlas 2 pewees were more widespread in eastern Massachusetts. While not truly ubiquitous, there were few places in the state where Eastern Wood-Pewees could not be found breeding. Though the western regions posted small declines, the losses were localized. Every region from the Connecticut River Valley eastward reported at least a modest increase in the presence of breeding pewees. In some cases, the increase was more than modest. The Coastal Plains, Boston Basin, and Bristol/Narragansett Lowlands regions experienced particularly remarkable upticks in Eastern Wood-Pewee breeding activity, with each region reporting net gains of 20% or more. Some shuffling of wood-pewee presence occurred on the Cape and Islands, but total occupancy remained essentially unchanged.
Atlas 1 Map
Atlas 2 Map
Atlas Change Map
|Atlas 1||Atlas 2||Change|
|Ecoregion||# Blocks||% Blocks||% of Range||# Blocks||% Blocks||% of Range||Change in # Blocks||Change in % Blocks|
|Marble Valleys/Housatonic Valley||39||100.0||5.8||37||94.9||4.1||-2||-5.1|
|Lower Berkshire Hills||27||96.4||4.0||29||93.5||3.2||-1||-3.7|
|Connecticut River Valley||41||73.2||6.1||61||93.8||6.7||10||20.8|
|Lower Worcester Plateau||55||74.3||8.1||79||98.8||8.7||7||13.0|
|S. New England Coastal Plains and Hills||172||63.7||25.4||267||94.3||29.5||60||26.5|
|Bristol and Narragansett Lowlands||67||63.2||9.9||89||78.1||9.8||22||21.8|
|Cape Cod and Islands||77||56.6||11.4||88||61.1||9.7||2||1.7|