Eastern Phoebe: Description, Types, Pictures, & Fun Facts

Eastern Phoebe

Table of Contents

Scientific Classification of Eastern Phoebe

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Sayornis
  • Scientific name: Sayornis phoebe
Location of Eastern Phoebe
  • Central America
  • North America
Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe Description

Eastern phoebe is a member of the family Tyrannidae. The birds pronounce their name in their unmelodic songs and short calls. Usually, male phoebe uses these sounds during the breeding season.

The eastern phoebe makes monogamous pairs but sometimes a male mates with two partners instead of being monogamous. The eastern phoebe is threatened by predation from several species, such as the brown-headed cowbird, which is a major threat to the bird.

The cowbird replaces the egg of the phoebe with her eggs in the nest but the eastern phoebe still takes care of the eggs of the cowbird.

Eastern Phoebe
Incredible Facts About Eastern Phoebe!

o It is considered that the bird is named after a goddess. The species name phoebe is associated with the name of a Roman Goddess.

o All the species belonging to the flycatcher family are well known for their behavior of diverting and deceiving their enemies. The eastern phoebe also has its symbolism and the bird is known for its hidden knowledge.

o However, the eastern phoebes keep to themselves usually but they are considered very friendly.

Eastern Phoebe vs Eastern Wood-Pewee

Both the species names Eastern phoebe and Eastern wood- pewee are included in the same family known as the flycatcher family. However, the species can be easily differentiated due to its characteristic features.

For instance, the wood-pewee consists beak having a two-toned mandible but the beak of the phoebe is entirely black. The color of the body is completely similar in both species but the phoebe and wood-pewee differ in their behavior.

The eastern phoebe has a characteristic feature that while perching, the bird wags its tail, which is not seen in wood-pewee. The birds can be also differentiated based on their sounds. The call of a wood-pewee is more melodic and whistled while eastern phoebe uses raspy sounds.

Eastern Phoebe
Other Species of Eastern Phoebe

Sayornis phoebe is the scientific name of eastern phoebe. The bird belongs to the family Tyrannidae and class aves. The genus name Sayornis is made up of two words, say+ ornis.

The word say is chosen by Charles Lucien Bonaparte for the say’s phoebe and the word ornis is a Greek word that means “bird”. The male phoebe is very noisy thus it gets its name “phoebe”. It is also believed that the bird is named over a Roman moon- goddess Diana or Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe
Appearance and Behavior of Eastern Phoebe

The eastern phoebe appears brownish-gray colored and the underbelly of the bird is of white color. The birds consist of short and thin beaks of dark color. The length of their wingspan is around 11 inches and the bird is around 6 inches long with a weight of about 0.6 to 0.7 ounces.

When the eastern phoebe lives with its mate, the bird prefers to live solitary. The birds also spend less time with their mates. They love to find a protective and safe home and live there. The birds also fly after insects periodically.

Nests of Eastern Phoebe

The eastern phoebe prefers to build their nests in those areas that are fully protected and have sufficient support. Most of the time, they prefer manmade structures, barns, or nesting boxes instead of building nests. The nests of the birds are made near rock outcrops or streambanks.

The nests were built by female birds, while males sing songs that are two-part songs. The female uses leaves, grass stems, moss, mud, and animal hair to prepare a nest. The phoebe uses their nest for several breeding seasons and builds a nest at some height.

The male phoebe alternate between two nests, in the condition of having two mates and help both the mates in taking care of young and their protection.

Eastern Phoebe
Habitat of Eastern Phoebe

The eastern bluebird is distributed in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. The population of eastern phoebe also lives in Texas, South California, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Some members are migratory but they also return to their breeding grounds before spring and some species return their breeding field by the start of March. A person can easily attract the birds by offering them a nesting box or any other area for perching.

Migration Pattern and Timing of Eastern Phoebe

The Eastern phoebe is a migratory bird and its migration pattern can give a glimpse of its nature. The birds migrate during the winter season and try to find places where they can reprieve from the cold.

The phoebe migrates towards Mexico and the United States. In the early spring of during March, the birds fly return to their breeding sites towards the north and build nests for upcoming broods.

Eastern Phoebe
Diet of Eastern Phoebe

While perching on branches, the bird twitches its tail and keeps a watchful eye on prey such as insects to feed on. Mostly the phoebe catches its prey in mid-air because they do not prefer to fly for long distances. After eating their prey, they return to the same branch and hover while picking seeds and small fruits.

What does Eastern Phoebe Eat?

Generally, eastern phoebe feed upon insects such as wasps, spiders, grasshoppers, bees, millipedes, ticks, seeds, and foliage.

Eastern Phoebe
Predators and Threats of Eastern Phoebe

It is still not known properly who prey upon eastern phoebe. However, the eggs of the bird face a great risk of predation. Several animals including chipmunks, mice, snakes, and other bird species feed upon their eggs from the nest. The eggs were protected by female birds primarily but sometimes males are also spotted while protecting their eggs.

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan of Eastern Phoebe

The eastern phoebe undergoes molting during and loses its all juvenile feathers. The birds try to find a mate and form monogamous pair. The female lays around 2 to 6 eggs in a clutch and the babies live for 16 days in the nest when the female take care of them.

Population of Eastern Phoebe

It is recorded that over 32 million birds migrate at any given time and thus the birds are listed as “least concern” birds by IUCN red list for threatened species. Currently, there are not any conservation efforts are going on for these birds, but some states are banding the species for their identification for research.

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