sayornis phoebe order: PASSERIFORMES family: TYRANNIDAE
It all started two weeks ago. I was outside on the screened porch of
the cabin, when I heard the phoebes calling their raspy, unmistakable,
"fee-bee... fee-bee". Phoebes are easy to identify by ear. Once you
hear one, you won't forget it. Plus, the phoebe says his own name...
which is very helpful!
I noticed that the phoebes were making trips to the old wood shed. I suspected they were scouting nesting locations. They like to nest in the overhangs and eaves of man-made structures. However, they also like natural cliffs and rock faces. I was lucky enough to watch a phoebe build a nest and raise a family at the Indian Rocks on our property two years ago!
On this particular day, two weeks ago, the phoebes kept making their rounds to the forest edge, back to the large hickory tree, then back to the wood shed. I was certain they were nest building. However, by the end of the day, something had changed their plans. They abandoned that location and didn't return.
The next morning, bright and early, I heard them once again right outside the screened porch by the hickory tree. This time, they decided to fly UNDER the CABIN! I was perfectly still and quiet, very aware that I could frighten them and derail any future nesting plans. I left the porch for the day and tried to "ignore" their frequent under-the-cabin trips.
After the passing of a week, I decided to go under the cabin and search for the nest. I looked and looked and looked.... and then looked some more. I saw no nest and no birds. How disappointing!! I reported to Phil that they must've moved elsewhere and there was no nest to be found.
A few days later, Phil had to go under the cabin to mount and install our hot-water tank. Sure enough, it was PHIL who found the nest!! He could not wait to tell me that the phoebes were nesting directly beside the water tank. He had inadvertently flushed Mama from the nest, which clued him as to where to look.
.... so mystery solved! They are tricky little birds. I'm glad that they found a very secretive and safe location to nest. I will leave them be as much as I can. I flushed Mama once while first approaching the nest, but now that I know where it is, I won't do it again. I can lay on my belly from under the cabin and try to get photos with my zoom lens. Hopefully she will allow me to get photos if I keep a respectable distance.