The Eastern Phoebe is one of the earliest migrants in much of
the eastern United States. Unlike most of the Empidonax flycatchers, they
are generally easy to identify, due to a well-known fee-bee song and
their habit of repeatedly wagging its tail up and down. They are often
quite tame, and have greatly benefited by the presence of humans since they will
often use buildings and bridges for nesting.
the summer breeding season, they are most often found in semi-open country or
open woodlands, primarily near water. In migration and during the winter,
they are generally found around woodland edges, woodland clearings, and brushy
Diet: Primarily feeds on insects, especially
during the summer breeding season, as well as spiders and millipedes.
Small fruits and berries make up an important component of the winter diet.
Behavior: Eastern Phoebes will often pump their
tail while perched, similar to some other flycatchers. They are
generally a solitary species, with even mated pairs not associating very
closely immediately after breeding. Much of its foraging is done
through flying out from a perch to catch flying insects, but they will also
hover near vegetation to glean insects from foliage and branches.
Nesting: May through July
Migration: Summers throughout the eastern half of
the United States, and into much of central and southeastern Canada.
Winters in the southeastern United States and Mexico. Eastern Phoebes
are relatively early to migrate northward in the Spring, and late to migrate
southward in the Fall.
Conservation Status: Numbers are probably higher than in
pre-settlement times, as man-made structures have greatly increased
potential nesting sites. Numbers are currently stable.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Eastern Phoebe"
Photo Information: September 30th, 2008 - Newton
Hills State Park, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Eastern Phoebe photos.