March 24, 2011

Eastern Phoebe – good news spring, bad news mosquitoes

The first nasally, fee-bee… fee-bee… fee-bew  is always a welcome noise to ponds and marshes around Southern New England. The Eastern phoebe returns to New England from a winter spent from Texas to Florida. Phoebes easily earn their title of flycatcher by picking tiny winged bugs from midair on quick, acrobatic sorties. Phoebes often use a favorite thin branch or fence post from which to continually perch then dart into the air. Sitting straight on the branch watch for the arrhythmic bobbing of their tail, a good clue for identification. Found in wooded edge, around ponds, parks, and marshy areas the Eastern phoebe goes where the bugs go, though seems quite at home around human development. Their closely colored cousin, the Eastern wood-pewee favors deep woods. Keep an ear open for this early spring arrival and the plaintive, nasal, “fee-bee” call.

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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