Photo by Melody

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Sayornis
Species: phoebe


4 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives


This bird has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Daytona Beach, Florida
Hephzibah, Georgia
Rock Falls, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Coatesville, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Yale, Iowa
Irvine, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Jeanerette, Louisiana
Wiscasset, Maine
Acton, Massachusetts
Halifax, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cole Camp, Missouri
Conway, Missouri
Marthasville, Missouri
Cortlandt Manor, New York
Concord, North Carolina
Dickson, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Kendalia, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Temple, Texas
Alexandria, Virginia
Penhook, Virginia
Walkerton, Virginia

By linthicum
Thumbnail #1 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by linthicum

By linthicum

Thumbnail #2 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by linthicum

By Mrs_Ed

Thumbnail #3 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by Mrs_Ed

By Methodical

Thumbnail #4 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by Methodical

By Methodical

Thumbnail #5 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by Methodical

By nanny_56

Thumbnail #6 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by nanny_56

By salandry54

Thumbnail #7 of Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by salandry54

There are a total of 13 photos.
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Member Notes:

Neutral Kendalia On Jan 24, 2009, Kendalia from Kendalia, TX wrote:

I can tell that the phoebes that live here are Eastern Phoebes (and not black) by their song. (There is a handy recording on the site of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

They build mud nests on my porch--very messy. But they are pretty and I like to hear them sing.

Neutral Malus2006 On Apr 20, 2009, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN
(Zone 4a) wrote:

Recently saw a pair in backyard 4/16/09 - very uncommon birds for me - they are larger than warblers, roughly the size of catbirds or flycatchers. Flick their tails often - that's one id cue for them - they loves streams so maybe a bit outside their territory as there's a stream nearby. Flies expertly, catching bugs then returning to the same perch like flycatchers. They took a bath in one of the small pond I have, preferring the "beach" - I have notice most migrantary birds love it when there's shallow water and pebbles or dirt - they snob birdbaths totally and won't go anywhere near them. They are also one of the earliest of the flycatcher group to arrive.

Positive GoPogo On Jul 5, 2009, GoPogo from North Billerica, MA wrote:

We have had a phoebe pair (the same one?) create 2 broods/year since 1990 when we moved to Wiscasset ME. They seem to dislike using the nest from last year; instead, they often build right next to an old nest like a townhouse. So, in late fall, I now remove old nests at their favorite locations. I adore the 'squeeze-toy' call & the tail-wagging.

Neutral sunfarm On Jan 12, 2010, sunfarm from Irvine, KY
(Zone 6a) wrote:

Their nests are messy. One pair tried to nest on a 3/4" wide ledge above my porch windows; another succeeded in nesting on a light fixture above an outbuilding door. Their sweet call makes them welcome in spite of their choice of nesting spots. They seem to control the insect population.

Positive plant_it On Apr 16, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Husband and I are in love with this bird. This is the second year in a row she has returned to make her nest under our portico. She laid 5 beautiful white eggs this week. We are worried that so many babies won't fit in her small nest. We bought a cat bed (ironic, yes) and put it under the nest to catch any babies who would otherwise fall to the concrete below.

We enjoy watching the phoebes "hawk" for insects. They love perching on dead branches. They enjoy eating wasps, beetles, flies and cicadas. That works out great for us. They also eat spiders and ticks. Have at 'em! : )

Our phoebe's nest is a thing of absolute beauty. It looks like it should be on the cover of a Pottery Barn catalogue. It is about 10 inches high in total with gorgeous green moss on the top making up the cup. This flows to a brown decorative part underneath made up of dried grasses weaved with coconut strings borrowed from the coconut liners of our hanging baskets.

Phoebes are one of the earliest returning migrants in the Spring and one of the last to leave in the Fall. Last Fall, I literally saw our phoebe flying up to check out her nest before she left. We left everything the way she had it and didn't touch the nest. In the Spring, she came back, spruced it up and re-used the same nest.

The sad part is that once the babies are raised, they are out of there. We still see them in the trees but we don't have the daily excitement of seeing them in the nest.

Positive themikesmom On Mar 17, 2013, themikesmom wrote:

We have just seen this bird for the first time for the last few days, we initially had a hard time finding out what it was, it looks just like a king fisher, except it is brown and white instead of greyish blue and white. They seem to be a very nice bird, that is very intelligent and curious and non-frightened of people, we usually see the same female this week, that sits on a tall wooden stake and watches us attentively when we do yard work.

Positive PapaTango On Jun 12, 2013, PapaTango from CORTLANDT MANOR, NY wrote:

Having moved into this house last year, we noticed two previous nests lodged on a ledge beneath a tree-house in the yard. This year we found that the Eastern Phoebe were the builders as they have constructed an identical nest and already fledged four chicks.

As of today, 12 June, the female is again laying a second clutch and there are another four eggs in the nest.

There is no shortage of winged insects about as I have deliberately let part of the lawn grow long grass this year, which is bursting with seed now but even without the grass, as previously reported, it's delightful to watch the birds sitting aloft and swooping down to snip an insect about ten feet away.

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