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Eastern Phoebe

ID Info
Silhouette FlycatchersFlycatchers
Eastern PhoebeSayornis phoebe
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Tyrannidae

Basic Description

One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches. They typically place their mud-and-grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns, and houses, which adds to the species’ familiarity to humans. Hardy birds, Eastern Phoebes winter farther north than most other flycatchers and are one of the earliest returning migrants in spring.

More ID Info
image of range map for Eastern Phoebe
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

The Eastern Phoebe’s eponymous song is one of the first indications that spring is returning. It’s also a great way to find phoebes as they go about their business in quiet wooded neighborhoods. Just don’t mistake the Black-capped Chickadee’s sweet, whistled “fee-bee” call; the phoebe’s is much quicker and raspier. During early summer, a great way to find phoebes is to quietly explore around old buildings and bridges. Look carefully under eaves and overhangs and you may see a nest.

Other Names

  • Mosquero Fibí (Spanish)
  • Moucherolle phébi (French)

Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest structure to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Find out more about providing nest structures on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest structures of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

  • Cool Facts