Pictures from the 2006 Eastern Phoebe Webcam

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Eastern Phoebe  (Sayornis phoebe)

The webcam

This webcam was placed inside a garden shed where a pair of Eastern Phoebe had placed their nest just above the door. Video, audio, and power cables from the camera are strung into the house where they connected to a MPEG4 video server which was connected by way of a cable router to the Internet.

The Eastern Phoebe

The Eastern Phoebe is a medium sized flycatcher. Brownish with an olive gray tinge above and light below with a bit of olive on the front and sides. The head, bill, and wings are darker than the rest of the body.


The Eastern Phoebe is found in the United States and Canada east of the Rockies. It breeds from the northern edge of its range in Canada to the northern parts of the Gulf states. These are hardy flycatchers and some will winter where they are still able to find food even with temperatures in the 40’s. This flycatcher will eat berries when insects are scarce helping to extend its winter range. 


Eastern Phoebe are among the earliest migrants to arrive and set up nesting territories. The males sing their familiar two syllable Phoebe song which diminishes as the females arrive. The males then perform a flight display as they sing to attract the females. Nest sites are typically on some sort of shelf formation with protection from above. In natural settings, this is typically a rock ledge in a ravine, but Phoebe have adapted to nesting on ledges provided by buildings as with our nest. This nest is inside a garden shed just above the door. The Phoebe nest is constructed of grass and mud and may be lined with hair and moss. The clutch of eggs may be 4 or 5 eggs, but this species is often the target of extra eggs deposited by cowbirds.


As a flycatcher, the Eastern phoebe can often be observed darting from a perch to catch an insect in midair. Unlike most flycatchers, berries and seeds contribute as much as 10 percent of their diet, especially in the winter.


The Phoebe says its own name with a distinctive phoe-be two syllable call that it repeats many times. The second syllable may alternately be higher or lower than the first.

Point of interest

This bird may have been the first to have been banded. Audubon himself is said to have fixed light silver threads to the legs of nestlings and documented their return to their natal area the following year.