Curious Phoebe

This Black Phoebe was probably as curious about me as I was about it. After leaving its perch atop a low tree facing the Bay, it flitted around in a small clearing in the forested grove. Spending just a few seconds at each perch, it dashed in a rough circle around me and my tripod, looking at me left and right, high and low, as if it were gathering impressions to publish in a blog of its own.

The Black Phoebes seem to be doing well in the park. I see them in all seasons, not just in winter like its cousin, the talented and slightly larger Say’s Phoebe. They show up in various corners of the park, north and south, by the shore and in the woods. .

These birds are in the flycatcher family, and catch flies is what they do. Flies and just about every other kind of bug that takes to the air, or sometimes on leaves or on the ground. They can hover a bit like a hummingbird, but don’t do it as often or as long as the Say’s Phoebe does.

Phoebes need to be near water, not a problem in Cesar Chavez Park. They need mud to build cup-shaped nests attached to high places, often cliffs or buildings, but anything will do. I’ve not yet seen one of their nests here, but they probably build on tree trunks concealed by foliage. I do expect to see youngsters in May or June. They look just the same as grownups except that the edges of their wings are light brown instead of white.

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

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