Bug Hunter

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

The seasonal Burrowing Owl Sanctuary in the northeast corner of the park is home to a variety of creatures, whether an owl is in residence or not. One of them is the Black Phoebe, here perched on a twig extending out over the rocks at the water’s edge on the east side. The phoebe is an insect hunter. It prefers to wait on a perch, as here, and make a short dive to snag a bug in midair. It may also forage for insects on rocks or on vegetation. It’s rarely found far from water. If the water has tiny fish in it, this bird may plunge in and snatch one with its beak. I’ve seen a Say’s Phoebe do that ( “Say’s Phoebe on Water” November 7 2018) but not a Black Phoebe. It’s reported to go fishing especially where it has hungry chicks in a nest. I’ve not seen one of its nests in or around the park. The phoebe builds its nests out of mud. It gathers the mud in its beak and glues it to the side of a wall. Made walls such as bridges and buildings serve, as do natural walls such as cliffs or dead trees. I’ve seen Black Phoebes here in June, July, and August. Those would be resident birds. I see them much more frequently in the fall, when migrants arrive. They aren’t banded, so it’s not possible to tell who’s resident and who’s visiting.

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

More about them: Cornell Wikipedia Audubon In Chavez Park

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