Eastern Phoebe

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sayornis phoebe

Eastern Phoebe


The Eastern Phoebe is a plump songbird with a medium-length tail.
It is a medium-sized flycatcher with dull coloration that blends with its surrounding woodland habitat.

Both sexes measure about 5.5 – 6.7 inches in length, with a wingspan of 10.2 – 11 inches and weight of about 16 – 21 grams.

It has very black bill, eyes and legs, and long tail. It has relatively dark brown hood, wings and tail, offering a contrast with the dull brown of the remainder of the upperparts, and mostly fairly pure white underparts. Breast and sides are dusky.

Autumn adult has light yellowish wash on the underparts.

Juveniles show two weak buffy wing bars and has more obvious yellow wash on underparts and browner tinge above.

Both sexes are similar, but males are larger and darker than females.

CALL: A sharp, clear “chip” or “tsyp”

SONG: A harsh, emphatic “fee-be”, with the second syllable harshest, rasping, or with a stuttered whistler second note “fee-b-be-bee”.

Males sing a raspy, two-parted song that gives them their name: "fee-bee.”
It lasts about half a second.
They also sing a variant of this song with a stutter or two between the two syllables and this is more often heard during or after aggressive interactions.

Feeds primarily on insects, such as flying insects, wasps, ants, flies, and wild bees.

They also eat invertebrates such as grasshoppers, spiders, hair worms from the water, and small fishes and crustaceans in shallow water. They may eat some fruit and few seeds, when insects are less abundant.

Occurs in wooded or partly wooded habitats, almost always near rivers or streams, and along forest edges.

Breeds from Southeastern Yukon and Northeastern British Columbia, eastwards to Nova Scotia and S Quebec, southwards to Central Texas, Northern Mississippi, and C Georgia.

Winters from Maryland, West Virginia, and very southern Illinois, and Southeastern Oklahoma, southwards to Florida, the Gulf Coast and Eastern Mexico.

The female builds a nest with mud, moss and some leaves and lines it with fine grass, stems and hair. It is always built with cover overhead.

She lays 2 – 6 white eggs sometimes speckled with reddish brown and incubates them for about 16 days.


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