This is at least the fourth year for Mr. and Mrs. Phobe (Fee-bee) to return to our Canadian lake. Penny is the wife and Frankie is the husband. They are very friendly birds and often land near us when we are having coffee in the sun room.
Mrs. Phobe has built her mud and grass nest under our eave’s. We cannot see her nest but she flies in and out of it quite often. When Mrs. Phobe is on the nest, Mr. Phobe goes hunting for insects.
Here are some notes from a book on birds.
One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” (Fee-bee) 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.
Size & Shape
The Eastern Phoebe is a plump songbird with a medium-length tail. It appears large-headed for a bird of its size. The head often appears flat on top, but phoebes sometimes raise the feathers up into a peak. Like most small flycatchers, they have short, thin bills used for catching insects.
The Eastern Phoebe is brownish-gray above and off-white below, with a dusky wash to the sides of the breast. The head is typically the darkest part of the upperparts. Birds in fresh fall plumage show faint yellow on the belly and whitish edging on the folded wing feathers.
The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fencelines. Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently.
These birds favor open woods such as yards, parks, woodlands, and woodland edges. Phoebes usually breed around buildings or bridges on which they construct their nests under the protection of an eave or ledge.