Black Phoebe

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Sayornis
Species: nigricans

La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
Gr. turannos tyrant
La. -idae appearance, resemblance
La. tyrannus tyrant, despot, king
iLa. Sayorins for zoologist Thomas Say
La. nigricans blackish, swarthy

About seven inches long. Black or sooty brown head, breast and back. White underside. White wing linings and outer tail feathers.

Exhibits typical phoebe up and down tail motion.

Painting of black phoebe perched on a twig and background of hills and distant buildings.
These voracious insect eating birds are great neighbors. They catch insects on the fly and skim floating insects on water like the cliff swallow does. And they are a stunning regular sight if you can attract them to your yard.
Black phoebes are year around resident in California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and Mexico.
Year around resident in southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and Mexico.
They build a mud and grass nests always under something on a wall, bridge or cliff often directly over, or near water on farms, in towns and some still in natural formations in California river valleys, its original habitat.
Photo of black phoebe adult feeding its offspring.
Females lay 3-6 white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another two weeks. Often raise two broods in a season.
Although black phoebes don’t normally need much assistance, they can be attracted to areas within their range where they have not previously nested or where there are no overhanging structures by providing shelters made specially for them.

Even if it’s a long shot, it’s very little effort.

One shelter has a 2″ by 8″ ledge, approximately a 8″ high gable roof, an open front and partially open sides.

Another has a 2″ by 6″ ledge, approximately a 6″ ceiling, an open front and partially open sides.

However, if shelter is available, there is no need for these designs.

Mount platform on the side of a garage, shed or porch under open shelter or an eave over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from seven to twelve feet high.

Do not mount in a tree. Make sure objects that cats and squirrels can climb do not provide access to the nest. The idea is to simulate a cliff edge.

 

Photo of black phoebe adult and its offspring.

Black Phoebe Parent and Young,
William Lovell Finley & Herman T. Bohlman,
American Birds, 1907

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Black Phoebe

Painting of black phoebe perched on a twig and background of hills and distant buildings.
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Sayornis
Species: nigricans

La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
Gr. turannos tyrant
La. tyrannus tyrant, despot, king
La. -idae appearance, resemblance
iLa. Sayorins for zoologist Thomas Say
La. nigricans blackish, swarthy

About seven inches long. Black or sooty brown head, breast and back. White underside. White wing linings and outer tail feathers. Exhibits typical phoebe up and down tail motion.

These voracious insect eating birds are great neighbors. They catch insects on the fly and skim floating insects on water like the cliff swallow does. And they are a stunning regular sight if you can attract them to your yard.

Black phoebes are year around resident in California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and Mexico.
Year around resident in southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and Mexico.
Photo of black phoebe adult feeding its offspring.
Black phoebes build mud and grass nests always under something on a wall, bridge or cliff often directly over, or near water on farms, in towns and some still in natural formations in California river valleys, its original habitat.
Females lay 3-6 white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another two weeks. Often raise two broods in a season.
Although black phoebes don’t normally need much assistance, they can be attracted to areas within their range where they have not previously nested or where there are no overhanging structures by providing shelters made specially for them. Even if it’s a long shot, it’s very little effort.
Photo of a shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.
One shelter has a 2″ by 8″ ledge, approximately a 8″ high gable roof, an open front and partially open sides.

Another has a 2″ by 6″ ledge, approximately a 6″ ceiling, an open front and partially open sides.

However, if shelter is available, there is no need for these designs.

Photo of another shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.
Mount this shelter on the side of a garage, shed or porch under open shelter or an eave over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from seven to twelve feet high.

Never install in a tree. Cliff nesting birds claim spaces that best simulate ledges on cliff faces which are difficult for predators to scale. They can also scan the surrounding area and below.

 

Photo of black phoebe adult and its offspring.

Black Phoebe Parent and Young,
William Lovell Finley & Herman T. Bohlman,
American Birds, 1907

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