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Eastern Phoebe - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Marcel Gauthier
Henryville, Quebec, Canada, April 2005
Sayornis phoebe


12·4–16·8 cm (4¾-6½ in)

  • Gray-brown above
  • White throat
  • Dirty gray breast
  • Yellowish underparts which (become whiter during the season)
  • Lack of both an eye ring and wing bars, and an all dark bill distinguish it from other American flycatchers
  • Pumps its tail up and down like other phoebes

Similar Species

Photo © by Stanley Jones
Camelot Park, Bryan, Brazos County, Texas, USA, 8 July 2020

Compare the similar Eastern Wood Pewee, which has stronger wing-bars and does not bob its tail habitually.


A partial migrant that begins to leave breeding areas in September and returning March-May. Breeds in central and eastern Canada and throughout the eastern USA.

Winters in the south-east USA to Mexico.

In the Western Palearctic recorded only in Britain, on Lundy Island off Devon in April 1987 and probably the same bird was seen at Slapton, Devon shortly before, although this report is not currently accepted.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Usually found in woodland and scrub near flowing water.



Their diet consists mostly of insects, supplemented by fruit from autumn to spring.


Voice: a quick rough phoebe.
Do not confuse with the much sweeter phoebe song of the Black-capped Chickadee.


Recording © by NJLarsen, Carolina Sandhills NWR, South Carolina, USA, 29 April 2023


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved October 2014)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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