The Tropical Pewee is very widely distributed over much of Middle America, from southern Mexico southwards, and over large parts of South America, primarily in cirum-Amazonian regions. Some eight subspecies are generally recognized over this wide and somewhat disjunct range, with some evidence of significant vocal and morphological variation in regions. Overall, this pewee is generally grayish brown, with darker upperparts, usually with two poorly defined pale wing bars, and sometimes with an indication of a paler throat and lores, as well as pale mandible to the bill. It inhabits a wide variety of wooded habitats, to at least 2600 m in the Andes, but usually lower elsewhere. The Tropical Pewee feeds on insects. Some authorities consider this species to form a superspecies with the Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) and the Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens), which breed mainly in North America, and migrate to western South America for winter.