Thursday, September 26, 2013

Eastern Phoebe, Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Between explosive bursts of energy, the Eastern Phoebe mainly rests.

Typically he perches on low branches over water where he presents little contrast to his surroundings.  Here he’ll sit and wait for as long as it takes for something to rise from the water. Zipping towards an insect to zap a meal…he returns to the same tree repeatedly.  

The Eastern Phoebe is an insectivore…eats insects.  He is good at it, too. He can snatch an insect out of the air, off the ground or floating on water.  He could pluck a spider out of its web by hovering before it, too.

I don’t know if the Eastern Phoebe has enemies, but weighing 0.6-0.7 ounce, there is not much to be gained by hunting one.  

By observation, he appears to be fearless, as he sits in the open to scan the water for insects.  

As quick as he is, he would be a challenge to capture for such a small reward.

Because he is so visible and vulnerable, he’s in constant contact with his environment. Twisting and turning his head up, down and sideways, either in offense or defense, he’s enjoyable to watch even while he rests.  

Wearing soft two-tone shades, Eastern Phoebes have a relaxed, refined quality about them.

Eastern Phoebes are loners.  They don’t associate or tolerate other Eastern Phoebes. Even mated pairs don’t seem to enjoy each other’s company for long.  During egg laying the female might drive off the male.  It’s an adaptation that works for them.  They seem to prefer a solitary existence.

Fortunately, they are comfortable around people and manmade structures, often constructing their nest under overhangs, much like swallows.  

For what they lack in sociability with their own kind they make up for in friendliness towards humans.


Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
Credit: Wikipedia 
Credit: The Sibley Guide to Birds