Black Phoebe


Black Phoebe

The Black Phoebe is a favorite resident songster in our parks, yards and nature corridors wherever a water source is present.The sharp whistled call of the Black Phoebe is a very typical sound along creeks and ponds throughout the southwest. They abundantly sing out their name, phoe-be, phoe-be!, boldly declaring their vibrant presence.

Solitary feeders, they are “wait-and-sally” flycatchers, usually waiting on low perches for an insect to come into view and then flying out, grabbing it and returning to the same perch. There, it will wait, watch, and pump its tail.

Observers will notice that it catches insects in mid-air, or may hover while picking them from foliage or sometimes from water’s surface. They feed on a wide variety of insects including beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, wild bees, wasps, flies, moths, caterpillars. Indigestible parts of insects are coughed up as pellets.

The dapper appearance and stately stance of this distinctive flycatcher make a lasting impression upon the observer. It has mostly black-appearing, dark sooty-gray upperparts and a white belly ending at the upper breast with an inverted ‘V’ surrounded by a dark sooty-colored throat area. Black Phoebes have a very large, squarish head that frequently shows a peak, like many other flycatchers. Adult males and females look alike. Juveniles have reddish-brown edges on feathers on their backs, most conspicuously on the edges of the wing coverts. Both parents actively feed their fledgling chicks and juveniles until maturity.

Black Phoebes are generally non-migratory, permanent residents in our community. The Black Phoebe is territorial, monogamous and pairing may last for up to five years. Their joyful calling, striking beauty and persistent insect suppression capabilities make them a valued year-round presence in the Urban Forest.

Bird gallery

Bird of the month flyer

Betty Kanne

Betty Kanne is a passionate birder based in Huntington Beach, California, known for her captivating "Bird of the Month" features authored for the HB Tree Society. With a keen eye and a deep appreciation for avian life, Betty brings to life the diverse array of bird species that call the Huntington Beach area home.

Betty's contributions play a vital role in raising awareness about the importance of birds in our ecosystems. Her dedication to sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for birding inspires others to engage with nature and become stewards of their local environment, fostering a deeper connection between the community and the rich avian diversity of Huntington Beach, California.

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