A rather subtle flycatcher to identify by sight, Eastern Wood-Pewee is much easier to identify by song, and their “pee-a-wee” song is a familiar sound of eastern forests through the summer.
Easy though their songs might be to identify, the species is regularly reported (but never confirmed) as early as March and early April. These reports certainly refer to European Starlings, which often mimic the pewee’s song, especially in early spring. Additionally, some Eastern Phoebes (an early migrant) can be misidentified as pewees. Fortunately, the eBird data quality process is able to isolate these outliers and they are not accepted into the database without convincing documentation.
The actual spring arrival of pewees occurs in southern areas quite suddenly in late April, and the species fills in the breeding range quite rapidly in May. In fall the movement is more protracted, covering late August to late October. This species is interesting in that it can be found in a range of eastern deciduous forests as well as in open pine forests, so its distribution is a bit wider than deciduous specialists like Wood Thrush or evergreen specialists like Pine Warbler.