The Phoebe Fledge

Top Photo: Juvenile eastern phoebe waiting for food from one of its parents.

On Thursday morning of this past week, I noticed a pathetic, wheezy, weeping sound coming from the palms along the sides of the path on the Dinosaur Trail, the unmistakable whining of a young bird on, or just off, the nest. It didn’t take long to locate the bird. It was an eastern phoebe, just fledged.

There were at least two more of the little flycatchers up in the trees over the trail, and after a short wait I saw both parents alternately fly in to stuff an insect goody down one or the other of the fledgling’s throats.

Recently fledged eastern phoebe.

Most years, eastern phoebes nest under the boardwalk in Explore the Wild (one year they chose the top of a masonry block column on Explore the Wild’s restroom building).

Adult phoebe on post of boardwalk in Explore the Wild.

As year-round residents they get an early start on the nesting season. Many of our other local nesters are just starting the nesting process, some just arriving back from the tropics. These phoebes have beat most to the punch (though we’ve already had nine chickadees and nine bluebirds fledge from our bluebird trail).

Adult brings in what looks like a cranefly for its youngsters.
Adult (right) tends to juvenile phoebe.
Adult (right) stuffs insect down one of two juveniles huddled together on branch.

You can see our phoebes, most days, down in our wetlands sallying forth to catch flying insects from a perch next to the water or even on the railing of the boardwalk itself.

Get out and have a look around. The birds are there, rain or shine.

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