Lingering Phoebe

As I mentioned in an earlier post (“Say’s Phoebe” on 09-27-11), Say’s phoebes pass through our area on their spring and fall migrations. Northern populations of these tyrant flycatchers move into Southwestern United States and Central Mexico for the winter. In our area we only see Say’s phoebes for a day or two as they move through twice a year. Many times Leonard and I miss them altogether.

This has been an unusual year in that we are getting birds in our yard that have never been here before, or that we rarely see at our house. (See “Lewis’s Woodpecker” and “Surprising Sapsuckers”)  Now there is a Say’s phoebe that, instead of moving quickly on, is lingering near our machine shed.

The diet of a Say’s phoebe consists almost exclusively of insects. This grey bird sits atop a perch from which it hawks (catches in flight) flying insects. It will also hover and glean insects off of vegetation or the ground.

It is interesting to watch as this Say’s phoebe sits on a fencepost, in the maple next to the machine shed or on the shed’s ridgepole watching for flying insects. It quickly flies out to capture its prey before resuming its perch. Our machine shed also has a few wasp nests on the ceiling and many spider webs. The phoebe also perches on the rafters waiting for an unsuspecting wasp to fly by or hovers at the spider nests, plucking insects from the webs.

Eventually the Say’s phoebe should continue its fall migration. Until then it appears to be enjoying the smorgasbord of insects near our machine shed (near Lookout CA – Modoc County). Leonard and I are enjoying its company.

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