Fun Eastern Phoebe Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 06, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
Discover interesting Eastern phoebe facts such as their size, diet, and body color at Kidadl.

The eastern phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), is a small bird that belongs to the group of flycatchers. They are the first banded birds of North America and use buildings and bridges as their nest sites.

Their distinctive habit of tail wagging distinguishes them from other similar species. They are migratory birds who move to the regions of the southernmost United States and regions of Central America in winter.

The eastern phoebe call sounds like 'fee-bee', from which they have derived their unique name. The diet of these birds generally includes insects and smaller fish.

These North American birds usually form groups of pairs after arriving at their breeding grounds in the season of spring. They belong to the family of Tyrannidae.

The eastern phoebe behavior of nesting is also quite unique, where females build the nest and males guard them during this nesting process against any other predators. The eastern phoebe nest is generally made out of mud, fine grass stems, and leaves.

If you are fascinated by eastern phoebes, then you may want to continue reading the article. If you want to learn more about different animals, you can read up on tawny owl and tawny eagle.

Eastern Phoebe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is the eastern phoebe?

The eastern phoebe is a small migratory songbird.

What class of animal does the eastern phoebe belong to?

The eastern phoebe belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many eastern phoebes are there in the world?

The population of the eastern phoebe flycatcher is estimated to be 35 million globally. However, their ability to build their nests on human-made structures like bridges and buildings has further expanded their range as well as their habitats. They are listed in the status of Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Where does the eastern phoebe live?

The eastern phoebe flycatchers are migratory by nature and can be found in the regions of Canada, Texas, and Florida, mainly in the southeastern United States, Central America, and during the migration period from September to November in Mexico at wintering grounds.

What is the eastern phoebe's habitat?

The breeding season of this species is in spring and they can even build their nests on human-made structures like bridges and buildings. But other than that, the breeding habitat of these birds includes open woodland, farmland, and suburbs.

Who do eastern phoebes live with?

Eastern phoebes are not very social birds. They rarely move in groups and mated pairs do not spend time together for too long.

How long does the eastern phoebe live?

On average, the lifespan of the eastern phoebe is about 10 years and four months.

How do they reproduce?

Eastern phoebes are monogamous by nature and their breeding season is usually in spring when they form pairs, following which nest building occurs which helps them to establish their territories. Females build the nest with the help of mud, stems, hair, and fine grass.

Throughout the whole process of nest building and laying eggs, the male accompanies the female. Females lay the first clutch after 7-14 days of nest building.

An average of five eggs are laid, and most of the eastern phoebe eggs hatch within 24 hours. The eastern phoebe fledgling stays in the nest for 16-17 days before venturing out.

During that period, the male and the female eastern phoebes feed them. The incubation period of this species is 16 days, which is even less in the period of summer, which is when their second brooding session occurs.

What is their conservation status?

The eastern phoebe bird (Sayornis phoebe) has been listed in the status of Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They display tolerant behavior towards human beings and the eastern phoebe nesting habits of building nests on human-made structures like buildings and bridges have further extended their range and population across the regions of North America.

Eastern Phoebe Fun Facts

What do the eastern phoebes look like?

Eastern phoebes are insectivorous which means they only eat insects such as grasshoppers, flies, and wasps .

The eastern phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is a small bird with a big head and gray-brown plumage which allows it to blend well with its woodland habitat. Their throats are white in color and they have two indistinct buff bars on each wing.

The bills of these birds are black and the underparts of their body are pale buff.

The eastern phoebe tail is of medium size and like all other species of phoebe, they too have the prominent quality of twitching and tossing their tails up and down or side by side, when alighted on a perch.

These flycatchers are found in the southeastern United States, especially in the habitat regions of Texas and Florida, in the winter season.

How cute are they?

Eastern phoebes are extremely cute. Owing to their short size and adorable features, these flycatchers are extremely sweet and are sure to melt your heart.

How do they communicate?

Eastern phoebes communicate with each other through various sounds and songs. Males produce a specific kind of song, which is called 'fee-bee', from where they derive their name.

They also produce soft chirps to communicate with each other during the breeding season. They also emit loud sounds, when encountered with a predator or larger birds. The male eastern phoebe song is of two types, and females are known to sing songs rarely and briefly.

How big is the eastern phoebe?

The length of the eastern phoebe ranges from 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm). They are generally smaller in size than the eastern kingbird.

How fast can the Eastern phoebe fly?

The wingspan of the eastern phoebe is 10.2-11.0 in (26-28 cm). Like any other flycatcher, the eastern phoebe in flight is known to swoop and capture any passing preys with the help of its bill.

How much does the eastern phoebe weigh?

The weight of the average eastern phoebe ranges from  0.6-0.7 oz (16-21 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for both sexes. Males are called male eastern phoebes and females are called female eastern phoebes.

What would you call a baby eastern phoebe?

Like any other species of bird, the juvenile eastern phoebe is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

Found in regions of Texas in the winter, eastern phoebes are insectivorous, that is, these flycatchers mainly feed on flying insects like wild bees, grasshoppers, flies, and wasps. Small fishes of the shallow waters are also a part of the eastern phoebe diet.

They usually perch at a distance of 10 m from the ground to attack their prey and feed on them. When insects are unavailable, they have been known to survive on fruit.

Are they friendly?

Eastern phoebes are not aggressive at all, they are a rather frightened bunch. However, there have been instances when a few of these species have shown boldness and friendly behavior towards human beings.

Would they make a good pet?

Although eastern phoebes have been known to display friendly behavior towards humans, they should not be kept as a pet. Like all other birds, they enjoy the freedom of flying and should not be kept captive as a pet in a cage.

Did You Know...

Pairs of eastern phoebes are known to go back every breeding season to mate at the same site for several years. Barn swallows sometimes use the nest of eastern phoebes and eastern phoebes use theirs in turn.

eastern phoebes are known to perch at lower heights and also toss their tails, unlike the species of eastern kingbird. Eastern phoebes are most easily confused with eastern wood peewee or eastern wood phoebe.

A group of eastern phoebe or flycatchers are known as the outfield, zapper, or zipper of flycatchers.

Since this bird is known to build nests and lay eggs on man-made structures, there are several health-related problems caused by the mites in its nests.

The first way to deter eastern phoebes from laying eggs is to identify the area where the bird might use for nesting and then to immediately seal off the area or obstruct the entrance of the bird in that area.

It can be done with the help of netting or any other means of obstruction. Another technique is to scare them away is by using anything flashy or noisy, which can either be a balloon or even wind chimes.

The key is to make that space unattractive to the bird which will, in turn, prevent them from returning.

Eastern phoebes are double brooded by nature, that is they produce two broods each year. The second brooding usually occurs in summer.

How many species of phoebes are there?

There are three known species of phoebes in the world. They are the eastern phoebe (found largely in North America), Say's phoebe (found in the open country of western North America), and the Black phoebe which ranges from the southwestern United States to Argentina.

Will the eastern phoebe still sing the same song in the wild and in captivity?

Male eastern phoebes can sing two different types of songs regularly, whereas females do not sing so frequently. Unlike other songbirds, who depend on other birds to hone their vocalizations, eastern phoebes are known to sing the same as in captivity and wild.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including scarlet macaw, or yellow warbler.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our kingfisher coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Diya Patel

Bachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

Diya Patel picture

Diya PatelBachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

A member of Kidadl's fact-checking team, Diya is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from Ahmedabad University with an interest in exploring other fields. As part of her degree, she has taken classes in communications and writing to expand her knowledge and skills.

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