Eastern Phoebe, Sayornis phoebe

The Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is a species of passerine bird that is found in eastern North America. It is a migratory species and winters in the southern USA and Central America. It is a rare visitor to western Europe. Its breeding habitat is open woodland, farmland, and suburbs. It is often seen near water. It is one of the last birds to leave its breeding grounds in the fall, and is one of the earliest to come back. Despite changes in climate, the Eastern Phoebe’s migration patterns have stayed the same for the last 100 years.

This species has a small crest that, when puffed up, makes the small bird appear to be very big-headed. It has grayish-brown plumage above with a white throat, sooty gray breast and tanned underparts. The underparts become whiter during the breeding season. Two tan bars are present on each wing. The bill is dark-colored. This bird, like other phoebes, pumps its tail up and down while perching on a branch. The call is a sharp chip. The song, from which its name is derived, is fee-bee.

The Eastern Phoebe is an insectivore and perches in the clear while scavanging for food. During cooler months, it often eats fruits and berries. It generally nests on bridges and buildings and other human-made structures. Its nesting activity begins in early April. The nest is an open cup with a mud base. It is lined with moss and grasses. The female lays 3 to 8 eggs and both parents feed the young once hatched. Two broods are typical in a year.

Image Caption: A Eastern Phoebe at Owen Conservation Park, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Credit: John Benson/Wikipedia (CC Attribution 2.0)