Eastern Phoebe

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

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma
  form, kind, species
Gr. turannos
La. tyrannus
  tyrant, despot, king
La. Sayorins  for zoologist
      Thomas Say
La. Phoebe
      Titaness, daughter of Uranus
      and Gaea

Eastern Phoebe, F. C. Hennessey, Birds of Western Canada, P.A.Taverner, 1926

  F. C. Hennessey

Six or seven inches long. Brown head with slight crest, gray brown back, gray wings with white bars and white underside with yellow tint. Black bill and feet. Characteristic up and down tail motion.

Inhabits woodland edges, shady ravines, river bottoms and open fields in most of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, throughout the Great Lakes Region, to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia all down the east coast and Appalachia over to the Great Plains. Migrates to Mexico and the Caribbean.

USGS Eastern Phoebe Map

Builds nests of twigs, roots and moss, cemented with mud, lined with grass, hair, and feathers in woodlands near wetlands, very often near and with humans on house ledges under eaves, in farm buildings, on and under bridge beams, or cliff protrusions very often in the same place year after year almost always under something. Their nests have been found in culverts, caves, wells, freight train cars and even a ferry that was in use.

Lays four to six, more or less, speckled white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another two weeks.

Often rears two broods in a season. Phoebes mate for life.

Feeds on moths, flies, bees and other insects it catches on the fly like the swallows with a clap of its beak. Also eat berries.

Makes an abrupt, harsh note.

Eastern Phoebe, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917
The free woodworking plans of the Phoebe platform (below) have approximately a 6" by 6" base, approximately a 6" ceiling, an open front and partially open sides. 

Mount platform on the side of a garage, shed or porch under open shelter or an eave over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from seven to twelve feet high.
Carefully select a location that provides a balance of protection from predators and elements, access and visibility.   If location is under a roof, use an open platform.

Do not mount in a tree. Make sure objects that cats and squirrels can climb do not provide access to the nest. The strategy is to simulate a cliff edge. They like to survey a wide berth from their roost. They also like bird baths

Robins, Barn Swallows, Black Phoebes, Say's Phoebes and Song Sparrows may use this platform.


Eastern Phoebe, R. Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds, Alice E. Ball, 1916


Eastern Phoebe Song, F. Schuyler Mathews




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