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Black Phoebe - Sayornis nigricans



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Passeriformes 
 Family: Tyrannidae
 Genus:  Sayornis
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern



Black PhoebeThe black phoebe is a small tyrant flycatcher. It is 6-7 inches in length. It has black upperparts, head, breast, wings, and tail. It has a white belly and rump. It has a short, pointed black bill and black feet and legs. Males and females look alike. The black phoebe often wags its tail!



mapThe black phoebe is found in the western United States from southern Oregon to California and west from Arizona to Texas. It is also found in Mexico and in the Andes region of South America from Colombia to Argentina.


The black phoebe is found in open areas near lakes, streams, and ponds. It is also found near cliffs, in agricultural areas, and in city parks.



Black PhoebeThe black phoebe primarily eats insects. It perches on a shady branch and waits for insects to fly by. It then swoops after the insect and catches it in mid-air. It sometimes also hovers over the ground waiting for prey. It may also eat berries and it even dives into the water and catches minnows and other small fish from the surface of the water!

Life Cycle

The male black female locates a nest site and hovers over it. The female makes the final decision and builds an open cup nest of grass, mud, hair, and plant fibers. The nest is built on cliffs, under bridges, and in the eaves of buildings. The female lays 3-6 eggs and incubates them for 15-17 days. The chicks fledge in 14-21 days. The female may have 2-3 broods a year.


Black phoebes are very territorial and often remain in the same place year-round.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer cc logo