|Conservation status||Population probably increased as buildings and bridges provided many more potential nesting sites. Current numbers are apparently stable.|
|Habitat||Streamsides, farms, woodland edges. In breeding season, typically found near water in woodland or semi-open country. May be limited mostly by availability of good nest sites, which are often along streams. In migration and winter, found around edges of woods, brushy areas, often near water.|
Forages by watching from a perch and flying out to catch insects. Most are caught in mid-air, some are taken from foliage while hovering briefly. Also drops to the ground to pick up insects there. Perches in shrubs or trees to eat berries.
4-5, sometimes 2-6. White, sometimes with a few dots of reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, about 16 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young usually leave nest about 16 days after hatching. Adults typically raise 2 broods per year.
Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young usually leave nest about 16 days after hatching. Adults typically raise 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects, some berries. Insects make up great majority of summer diet; included are many small wasps, bees, beetles, flies, true bugs, grasshoppers, and others. Also eats some spiders, ticks, and millipedes. Small fruits and berries are eaten often during the cooler months, and are probably an important part of the winter diet.
Male defends nesting territory by singing, especially at dawn. Occasionally one male may have two mates, and may help to feed the young in two nests at once. Nest: Original sites were probably always on vertical streambanks or small rock outcrops in the woods, with a niche providing support below and some shelter above. Now often builds nest under bridges, in barns, in culverts, or in other artificial sites. Same site may be used repeatedly, and may build on top of old nest. Nest (built by female) is an open cup with a solid base of mud, built up with moss, leaves, and grass, lined with fine grass and animal hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates quite early in spring and late in fall, especially compared to other flycatchers.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsClear phoe-be, repeated many times; the second syllable is alternately higher or lower than the first. Call note a distinctive, short chip.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Eastern Phoebe
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Eastern Phoebe
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.