Though the eastern phoebe is common and widespread throughout eastern North America, it has relatively drab plumage and is often overlooked. This species is included in the group “Flycatchers”, making their living off flying insects. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, primarily insectivorous and eat a wide range of bugs. At first it appeared to me that the Phoebe was repeatedly failing to get any suet at all. Eastern KIngbird. Eastern phoebes often nest under bridges, overpasses, eaves, or culverts, and are comfortable nesting in close proximity to humans. The Tyrannidae bird family includes approximately 450 species of phoebes, flycatchers, tyrannulets, elaenias, kiskadees, kingbirds, pewees, and other birds. Profile by Glenn Olsen: We have fourteen species of flycatchers that one can reasonably expect to see at some time during the year within the six counties of the Upper Texas Coast. Mature and dense forested areas are less desirable. While out looking for the Eastern Phoebe, be on the alert for our second most common wintering flycatcher, the Vermilion Flycatcher. A third brood is usually only common in southernmost populations where the breeding season is longest. There are 2-8 eggs in a typical brood, and a mated pair may raise 2-3 broods each year. One can frequently find Eastern Phoebes in the general area of small ponds, ditches, wet open woodlands, or woodland edges. The Eastern Phoebe is often associated with edge habitat abutting forested areas with water sources. Vagrant sightings are regularly recorded much further west than expected, usually in fall. It is among the earliest of migrants, bringing hope that spring is at hand. Less often, they hover to pick insects or seeds from foliage. Nest success, however, … This continued until enough of a base was built up to allow Males sing their two-parted, raspy song throughout the spring and aggressively defend their territory from others o… The nest is built of mud pellets and moss, and lined with grass, feathers, leaves, and similar material. Phoebes make their nests out of mud, pieces of moss, leaf litter, and strands of fur. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. Birding in areas with abundant culverts, overpasses, and other nesting options is also a way to increase the chances of seeing an eastern phoebe. These are relatively solitary birds but are also seen in pairs, though even mated birds do not have much tolerance for one another's company. The black, thin bill has stiff rictal bristles at the base, and these birds have dark eyes and black legs and feet. When they spot one, they abruptly leave their perch on quick wingbeats, and chase down their prey in a quick sallyoften returning to the same or a nearby perch. Its slender build and large head that may appear peaked at the rear are a birder's first clues about this bird's identity. These flycatchers are not considered threatened or endangered, and thanks to more available bridges and overpasses to serve as nesting sites, their range is gradually expanding. I’ve never been one to “chase” birds – that is, to make special trips just to see some vagrant rarity that has appeared in some place significantly outside its normal range – a common occurrence in the Lonestar State. When foraging, eastern phoebes often sally from the same perch repeatedly, and can hover briefly while they pluck at insects. The wings may show some pale edges, but not quite enough to be characterized as wing bars. Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya Order: Passeriformes Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. The Eastern Phoebe is our most commonly occurring flycatcher during the winter months. The eastern phoebe first appears to be an unremarkable bird, rather dull and without bold markings or color. Click to enlarge. One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. Juveniles differ slightly, possessing a uniform light grey shade on the top parts of the body, and light orange wing bars. Best of all, its gentle tail-wagging habit and soft fee-bee song make the Phoebe easy to identify, unlike many flycatchers. Eastern Phoebe February 7, 2020 by mattbuckinghamphotography. The Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), a common summer resident in southern Indiana, makes extensive use of bridges and culverts for nesting throughout most of the eastern United States. Seemingly quite tame, it often nests around buildings and bridges where it is easily observed. Here they often perch in a rather erect posture, frequently 3 to 15 feet off the ground and will fly out from the perch to capture insects (referred to as sallying or fly catching). Chasing Scoters. Eastern Phoebe. Seasonal Occurrence: Abundant November through March. Hover over to view. Despite its plain appearance, this flycatcher is often a favorite among eastern birdwatchers. Most are small. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. The Eastern Phoebe is a plain but attractive bird roughly the size of a Purple Martin. Adult birds have dusky gray or grayish-brown upper parts with the crown, face, and tail contrastingly darker, sometimes appearing almost black. Eastern phoebes stay in appropriate habitats year-round from central and eastern Texas through Arkansas and the northern portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia into Tennessee, southern Kentucky, western North Carolina, and northern South Carolina. Eastern Wood Pewee. One eastern phoebe has also been recorded in England, presumably after getting lost on migration.