|Conservation status||Adapts well to changes in landscape, often nesting in residential areas. Numbers apparently stable.|
|Habitat||Scrub, canyons, ranches. Found in open or semi-open terrain, often in dry country, avoiding forested areas. Often in farmland, savannah, or prairie in south, dry upland tundra in northern part of range. Unlike the other two phoebes, has no special attachment to vicinity of water.|
Forages by perching on low shrub or rock and darting out to capture insects. May catch its food in mid-air, or take it from low foliage or from ground. Also often hovers low over fields until prey is spotted, then drops to ground to capture it. Indigestible parts of insects are coughed up as pellets.
4, sometimes 3-7. White; some (thought to be the last laid) may have small brown or reddish spots. Incubation is by female only, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents bring food to nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-16 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year, sometimes 3 in the south.
Both parents bring food to nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-16 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year, sometimes 3 in the south.
Almost entirely insects. Often feeds heavily on wild bees, wasps, winged ants. Other insects in diet include beetles, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, and dragonflies. Also eats spiders and millipedes, and occasionally eats berries.
Males are thought to arrive on breeding grounds before females. Male sings to defend nesting territory, usually from exposed perch, sometimes in flight-song display. Nest site varies: on rocky ledge or crevices in cliffs or caves, in wells or mine shafts, under bridges or eaves; occasionally in natural tree cavity or hole in bank. May take over old swallow nest. Nest (probably built by female, but details not well known) is a flat open cup made of grass, weeds, moss, spiderwebs, wool, and other materials. Unlike other phoebes, usually uses no mud in nest.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates north relatively early in spring. Occasionally strays to Atlantic Coast (once even to Bermuda), mostly in fall.
- 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 CallsA mellow, whistled pee-ur with a plaintive quality.
Learn more about this sound collection.