Jim Gain’s “Reflections of the Natural World” is one of the finest sources for nature’s beauty and bounty anywhere. His images of birds are especially inspiring. We’re proud to publish his ongoing series, “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds.” Here is post #15 in that series.
The Black Phoebe is a dapper flycatcher of the Central Valley with a sooty black body and crisp white belly. They sit in the open on low perches to scan for insects, often keeping up a running series of shrill chirps. Black Phoebes are Common Year-round Residents and conspicuous near sources of water and around human development.
Black Phoebes forage by watching from a perch and darting out to catch insects, often just above water. They can catch insects in mid-air, hover while gleaning them from foliage, and sometimes pick them from the water’s surface. They may also take insects from the ground, especially in cool weather.
Black Phoebes use mud to build cup-shaped nests against walls, overhangs, culverts, and bridges. Look for them near any water source from small streams, to pools, canals, and small lakes in the suburbs.
The male Black Phoebe gives the female a tour of potential nest sites, hovering in front of each likely spot for 5 to 10 seconds. However, the female makes the final decision and does all the nest construction.