the Nest Files – Eastern Phoebe

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Eastern Phoebe nest contents

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

Nidiologicals (from Peck and James 1987)

Habitat=deciduous and mixed woodlands; rural areas
Microhabitat=primarily man made structures in open forested habitats but also in natural crevices and ledges
Spring arrival=April
Average nest height=2.1-3m
Nest builder=female
Incubation=female
Average # of broods/season=1-2
Average Egg Date=May 23-June 18
Area sensitive=no
Average clutch size=4-5
Incubation period=14-15 days
Egg colour=white with some of the clutch speckled
Parasitized by cowbirds=yes

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Guard duty-male Eastern Phoebe

[This is a pre-scheduled post written with haste on June 30 for publishing on July 3. We are hoping to have internet back up and running by the end of the weekend]

This Eastern Phoebe nest was originally built in a prior year, probably 2008, and was re-established by the adult male (above) and female (below) beginning June 17, 2009. The pair began checking out the dilapidated nest found under an eave on top of a motion-sensor light in mid-June. A day or two later, an adult was seen carrying material to the nest. Eastern Phoebes are remarkably tolerant of human activity around their nests and this particular pair is no exception as dogs, cats, people and various vehicles come and go without any apparent objection to the birds. By June 21, the nest was refurbished with a tidy new wreath of moss, plant fibers and animal hair. Upon checking the nest with a mirror on June 22, two eggs were discovered which became four by June 24. The female has been incubating ever since.

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Adult Eastern Phoebe incubating

This species has a variable incubation period, however the average is 14-15 days, which would mean that the eggs should hatch around the end of the first week of July. We will keep an eye on this nest for as long as we can with the hope that we might determine its final outcome.

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