Saturday, October 10, 2009

Black Phoebe

It's rare when a bird is as appropriately positioned as this picture.

Before last August I had never seen a black phoebe. Now I see them everywhere: Pescadero, Moss Beach, Hayward, and San Francisco. I can't decide if I'm better at spotting them or we're in phoebe season. My field guide is rather unhelpful as it states that they're locally uncommon to very common year round. Um, yeah, thanks.

They're very hard to photograph because they move around so frequently and they don't like you to get too close. This post is the culmination of months of photographs.

Black phoebes eat all types of insects. Julie Zickefoose has a touching series of posts about raising baby phoebes and teaching them to eat that starts here. I recommend Zickefoose's blog, if you're not familiar with her work. She writes about birding, travel, and her dog and she's in the process of writing a new book!

The phoebes live near water, including the ocean and marshes. In these pictures the phoebe is sitting in some branches built into the bluffs.

They're so adorable!

why do you keep looking at me?
They're typically seen on top of poles.

This picture was taken today in Golden Gate Park. The phoebe was very conflicted. Every 30 seconds he would take flight, chirp, and land back in the same position. I watched the cycle for several minutes before moving on to find some more birds.

The best was when I saw the phoebe catch a moth and eat it. He looked very satisfied.


  1. They are so cute and interesting but difficult to photograph, especially with their black head and dark eyes which disappear into their faces. You have done well. I know Julie also. She is an amazing person.

  2. Thanks! Julie is such a great writer. I'm going through her blog archives and soaking up every word!

  3. Julie was the big speaker and trip leader at the first birding festival I ever went to--she is AWESOME.

    These pics are phenomenal! Perhaps that guy from the last paragraph was hawking for insects? I wish I'd seen the moth catch--very cool.

  4. Ooh, that's a good point D! I bet he was. That makes a lot more sense than my theory.


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