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Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday's Foto

The arrival of the Eastern Phoebe around NYC in the month of March is a sign for local birders that spring migration has begun. Named for their distinctive raspy "fee-bee" call, this small, rather nondescript flycatcher is easily identified by their habit of constantly wagging their tail. They feed by patiently waiting on a perch, sallying a short distance to grab an insect then returning to their perch. Phoebes will also occasionally eat small berries. Relatively tolerant of human activities they frequently build their mud nests of the sides of buildings and bridges.

This species was the subject of the first bird banding experiment in North America. In 1804, John James Audubon tied thin silver wires to the legs of a brood. The following year he discovered that they had returned to breed in the same area.

The IUCN classifies the Eastern Phoebe as "Least Concern". Populations have been stable or slowly increasing in most areas since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Their scientific name, Sayornis phoebe, is derived from specific name Muscicapa saya Bonaparte, 1825, Say’s Phoebe; Gr. ornis bird. The specific name is an alliterative name for its call.

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