Morning Coffee with the Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe - michaela medina harlow - An Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), Perches Upon the Rusty Metal Garden Bench in Front of Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo Shibori’

As part of an ongoing effort to savor every last drop of summer, I’ve vowed to take my work and meals outside whenever possible. For the past few days, I’ve been lured out to coffee on the sunny, stone terrace by the perky morning song of an Eastern Phoebe. A few years ago, this friendly, summertime garden resident built a nest beneath the steel balcony —just above the Secret Garden door— which it refurbishes and reuses each year.

If you are new to birding, the Eastern Phoebe is a relatively easy species to ID. One of the earliest of the migratory birds to return to my garden in springtime, and one of the last to depart in autumn, this flycatcher likes to announce itself —often, rather loudly— by calling out its name, “Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe”. Lately, I find one or the other member of this pair, twitching its tail on the armrest of my rusty garden bench. Although it’s an omnivore —consuming small fruits and nuts in addition to live prey— the Phoebe’s diet consists mainly of flying insects; including flies, beetles, moths, wasps and ticks as well as other insects and arachnids. Some years the Phoebes raise two broods in their moss-lined nest; making the Secret Garden a fun spot to observe fledglings as they experiment with new, wobbly wings.

Eastern Phoebes - michaela medina harlow - Eastern Phoebe and Family in a Moss-Lined Nest Above the Secret Garden Door 

Listen to songs and calls, view photos and videos and learn more about the Eastern Phoebe and other bird species on Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website,  All About Birds, by clicking here.

Photography & Text â“’ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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2 Replies to “Morning Coffee with the Eastern Phoebe”

  1. Michaela

    Hi Ellie, They can be such chatter boxes in the morning. I love watching them, and so look forward to seeing them in early spring. That’s when I know we’ve hit the home stretch! x M

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