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June 28, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Eastern Phoebe

Last month I spent quite a few hours searching for a Snowy Egret. It had been sighted along the river where I monitor birds for the forest preserve. I never did find the egret, but I did see a lot of other birds. One of them was an Eastern Phoebe, a common bird during the summer months.

A pair of Phoebes were catching bugs and flying back and forth near a bridge over the river, stopping occasionally to perch on the railing – a sort of lookout point. After observing them for a few minutes, I realized they probably had a nest under the bridge. I couldn’t see the nest without wading into the river, which I wasn’t about to do, but their behavior was consistent with nesting birds.

A nest under the bridge

Eastern Phoebe

Phoebes prefer to breed in wooded areas near water but will also use human built structures such as the eaves of buildings, decks and under bridges. The nests are composed of mud, moss and leaves mixed with grass stems and animal hair. They are either placed on a firm surface or adhered to a wall with mud.

A summer resident

Eastern Phoebe

Phoebes will occasionally venture into backyards, although they will not use feeders. They are members of the flycatcher family and mainly eat flying insects, but will also eat other bugs and seeds. This is a bird I often hear before I see them. The male has a raspy song which sounds like “fee-bee”, from which they get their name. [song]

The Phoebe is a summer resident in the eastern half of the US and ranges up into parts of Canada. They are one of the first arrivals in early spring. [map] After the breeding season they will migrate south of the frost line to the central and southern US and Mexico.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. It is now hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

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Leave a Comment
  1. laurelrainsnow / Jun 28 2014 10:13 am

    Thanks for another gorgeous bird…love the name Phoebe! Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST


  2. Louise / Jun 28 2014 11:01 am

    I’ve never heard of a phoebe before. I learnt something as always. I wouldn’t wade out into the river either.


    • Leslie / Jun 28 2014 11:19 am

      It was shallow enough so I could have if I had my muck boots, but I was wearing my good hiking shoes.


  3. acuriousgal / Jun 28 2014 11:51 am

    I love the name too, wonder if they are flighty like a Phoebe on Friends😂😂…lovely little bird, nice capture


  4. Sandra Nachlinger / Jun 28 2014 12:51 pm

    Lovely photos (as always). Thanks for the link to the bird calls too. It was delightful to hear their chirp!
    Here’s the link to my Saturday Snapshot post.


  5. Suko / Jun 28 2014 2:46 pm

    Your photos of Phoebes are simply gorgeous, Leslie. Thank you for sharing your talent for capturing birds “on film”.


  6. BermudaOnion / Jun 28 2014 6:07 pm

    They’re so pretty!


  7. Sean @ His and Her Hobbies / Jun 29 2014 7:09 am

    Any bird that is a flying insect eater is welcome in my back yard any day!

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies


  8. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jun 29 2014 7:45 am

    Pretty bird!!! It is amazing where they will set up their nests 🙂


  9. Sue / Jun 29 2014 5:24 pm

    Really nice photos. I have trouble telling these from the other flycatchers. They don’t really have specific identifying field marks (wing bars, etc.).


    • Leslie / Jun 29 2014 9:16 pm

      Very true. It helps a lot if they are singing.


  10. Beth F / Jun 30 2014 7:02 am

    What a cutie!


  11. I love your photos. I’m actually just starting to attract birds to my backyard. Last year we had 15 different birds, so naturally we had to buy a bird book to learn to name them all. This year I am getting binoculars so that we can see the detail on some without scaring them away. 🙂


  12. mdott922 / Jul 2 2014 5:13 pm

    Great bird pictures! Thanks for sharing!


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