70birds

Birdhouse Plans Index

70birds

Birdhouse Plans Index

70birds

Birdhouse Plans Index

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
La. 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 in a background of hills and distant buildings.

These voracious insectivorous birds are great neighbors. They catch insects on the fly and skim floating insects on water like the cliff swallow does. They’re a stunning regular sight.

Black phoebes are year around resident in California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America as far as Argentina.

Black phoebes are year around residents in southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Mexico and Central and South America as far south as northern Argentina. Northern most populations may migrate some.

They can be seen usually near streams, ponds, in river valleys, coastal cliffs, small town and city gardens and city parks always near water.

From low perches usually near or over water they watch for flying or crawling insects. Mostly they eat flies, wild bees and wasps. They also consume lady bugs, various other ground beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and occasionally small minnows swimming near the water surface.

You may see their fat and fast growing fledglings perched in low vegetation near and over ponds and streams waiting and calling their parents to bring more and more freshly caught flies and bees. Sometimes the adults release insects for them to catch.

Photo of black phoebe adult and its offspring on fence wire.

Black phoebes build cup shaped nests of mud mixed with grass or fibrous bark lined with fine grass, shredded bark and animal hair cemented to vertical surfaces often directly over or near water on old shed walls, bridges, even abandoned wells on farms, in towns and cities and in the wild among natural formations in canyons and river valleys, their original habitats.

They commonly reuse nests in subsequent seasons.

Females lay 3-6 white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation more or less. Fledglings leave the nest in about another two weeks and are fed usually at waters edge where they learn to forage for themselves.

They often raise two broods in a season.

Black Phoebes by William Lovell Finley & Herman T. Bohlman, American Birds, 1907

Although black phoebes need no assistance nesting, they have been attracted to overhanging structures made especially for them. Even if there is a slim chance of attracting a phoebe family, it’s very little effort and the shelters are nice looking ornaments. You might attract cliff or barn swallow families.

One shelter has an approximately a 8″ high gable roof, an open front and partially open sides. Another has an approximately a 6″ ceiling, an open front and partially open sides.

The horizontal bottom ledges pictured in the illustrations could be left out for black phoebes. They typically do not build their nests on ledges or platforms as do other phoebes.

Install a shelter on the side of a garage shed or object over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from seven to twelve feet high.

Do not mount in a tree. Select a wall that resembles natural cliff faces in that climbing predators do not have access.

Photo of a shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.
Photo of a second shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.

Phoebe & Swallow Shelters

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
La. 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.

They exhibit the typical phoebe up and down tail motion.

Painting of black phoebe perched on a twig and background of hills and distant buildings.

These voracious insectivorous birds are great neighbors. They catch insects on the fly and skim floating insects on water like the cliff swallow does. They’re a stunning regular sight.

Black phoebes are year around resident in California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America to northern Argentina..

Black phoebes are year around residents in southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Mexico and Central and South America as far south as northern Argentina. Northern most populations may migrate some.

They can be seen usually near streams, ponds, in river valleys, coastal cliffs, small town and city gardens and city parks always near water. From low perches usually near or over water they watch for flying or crawling insects. 

Mostly they eat flies, wild bees and wasps. They also consume lady bugs, various other ground beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and occasionally small minnows swimming near the water surface.

You may see their fat and fast growing fledglings perched in low vegetation near and over ponds and streams waiting and calling their parents to bring more and more freshly caught flies and bees.

Sometimes the adults release insects for the fledglings to catch.

Photo of black phoebe adult and its offspring on fence wire.

Black phoebes build cup shaped nests of mud mixed with grass or fibrous bark lined with fine grass, shredded bark and animal hair cemented to vertical surfaces often directly over or near water on old shed walls, bridges, even abandoned wells on farms, in towns and cities and in the wild among natural formations in canyons and river valleys, their original habitats. They commonly reuse nests in subsequent seasons.

Females lay 3-6 white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation more or less.

Fledglings leave the nest in about another two weeks and are fed usually at waters edge where they learn to forage for themselves.

They often raise two broods in a season.

Black Phoebes by William Lovell Finley & Herman T. Bohlman, American Birds, 1907

Although black phoebes need no assistance nesting, they have been attracted to overhanging structures made especially for them.

Even if there is a slim chance of attracting a phoebe family, it’s very little effort and the shelters are nice looking ornaments. You might attract cliff or barn swallow families.

One shelter has an approximately a 8″ high gable roof, an open front and partially open sides. Another has an approximately a 6″ ceiling, an open front and partially open sides.

The horizontal bottom ledges pictured in the illustrations could be left out for black phoebes. They typically do not build their nests on ledges or platforms as do other phoebes.

Install a shelter on the side of a garage shed or object over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from seven to twelve feet high.

Do not mount in a tree. Select a wall that resembles natural cliff faces in that climbing predators do not have access.

Photo of a shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.
Photo of a second shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.

Phoebe & Swallow Shelters

Black Phoebe

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Painting of black phoebe perched on a twig and background of hills and distant farm 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. They exhibit the typical phoebe up and down tail motion.

These voracious insectivorous birds are great neighbors. They catch insects on the fly and skim floating insects on water like the cliff swallow does. They’re a stunning regular sight.

Black phoebes are year around resident in California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Central America and South America as far south as northern Argentina..

Black phoebes are year around residents in southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Mexico and Central and South America as far south as northern Argentina. Northern most populations may migrate some.

Photo of black phoebe adult and its offspring on fence wire.

They can be seen usually near streams, ponds, in river valleys, coastal cliffs, small town and city gardens and city parks always near water.

From low perches usually near or over water they watch for flying or crawling insects. Mostly they eat flies, wild bees and wasps.

They also consume lady bugs, various other ground beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and occasionally small minnows swimming near the water surface.

You may see their fat and fast growing fledglings perched in low vegetation near and over ponds and streams waiting and calling their parents to bring more and more freshly caught flies and bees. 

Adult black phoebe feeding young.

Sometimes the adults release insects for the fledglings to catch.

Feed mealworms in shallow trays to black phoebes.

They will also visit your bird bath.

Black phoebes build cup shaped nests of mud mixed with grass or fibrous bark lined with fine grass, shredded bark and animal hair cemented to vertical surfaces often directly over or near water on old shed walls, bridges, even abandoned wells on farms, in towns and cities and in the wild among natural formations in canyons and river valleys, their original habitats. They commonly reuse nests in subsequent seasons.

Females lay 3-6 white eggs, which hatch after about two weeks incubation more or less. Fledglings leave the nest in about another two weeks and are fed usually at waters edge where they learn to forage for themselves. They often raise two broods in a season.

Although black phoebes need no assistance nesting, they have been attracted to overhanging structures made especially for them. Even if there is a slim chance of attracting a phoebe family, it’s very little effort and the shelters are nice looking ornaments. You might attract cliff or barn swallow families.

Photo of a shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.

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

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

Photo of another shelter to attract black phoebes, barn swallows and cliff swallows.

Black Phoebe Shelters

The horizontal bottom ledges pictured in the illustrations could be left out for black phoebes. They typically do not build their nests on ledges or platforms as do other phoebes.

Install a shelter on the side of a garage shed or object over looking both open spaces and foliage in your back yard from 7′ to 12′ feet high.

Do not mount in a tree. Select a wall that resembles natural cliff faces in that climbing predators do not have access.

Birds    |    Birdhouses    |    Plans