Phoebe’s back!

Tobie and I were out doing chores this morning, specifically cleaning out the little tin storage shed behind the cabin. I have let it and the powershed get out of control, and one of the early season tasks is to fix that.

Is that a handsome young man or what? And being such a very good boy, too. Anyway…

I happened to see a flicker of activity at the Lair’s SW corner. Went and looked…

And yup. Every Spring since I put up the addition in 2017, the exact same spot. Definitely wasn’t there a couple of days ago.

Normally Phoebe is very skittish around me and I can’t get photos. But this time she posed for a beauty shot…

…which leads me to wonder if it’s even the same bird. How long do small migratory birds live, anyway? I don’t know. Maybe this is one of the original bird’s daughters?

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to Phoebe’s back!

  1. Kentucky says:

    Is that a drone I see by Tobie’s tail?

  2. jabrwok says:

    According to Shub-Internet, Wellspring of All Knowledge, Phoebes live about 10 years on average. So it might well be the same bird.

  3. ckc2000 says:

    I have a Carolina Wren that is nesting under my carport for the 6th year. When it fledged back then it flew into my shop & I put a green wire tie on it. But I see it all year though. I’ve read that a Ruby Throated Hummingbird has been recaptured for 13 yrs after being banded.

  4. Joel says:

    Is that a drone I see by Tobie’s tail?

    A toy drone, yeah. Somebody sent it to me a few years ago but it’s uncontrollable with even a puff of errant wind. Which means it’s always either uncontrollable in flight or just instantly crashes.

  5. I was wondering when you said ‘migratory’ as ours didn’t seem to migrate away as much as choose convenient spots for nesting and then live more nomadic once that responsibility was over.

    Took a quick look at the Peterson Western guide and it looks like you’re probably a bit north of their year-round range – so yours may indeed be migratory – but probably by only a hundred or two miles.

    They do usually return to their old nesting sites as long as they feel comfortable there. As far as I’ve been able to determine I’ve seen a pair of them for about 4 years, and more recently a female that nested here for about 7 years. They more or less got used to me over that time and I just tried to give them space. I learned to mimic one of their usual calls and they’d usually call back and forth with me.

    The more recent solo female didn’t show up last spring – nor again this year. I’ll see one every month or so but they don’t generally call back or stay long. The kids are literally driven away by the parent/s once they’ve been flying a couple weeks – and they’re territorial about nesting sites – so the kids may not readily come back. I’ve seen a Phoebe pull off 3 nestings in one summer. No idea why for the urgency – but that seems part of why she’d drive the kids off.

    Long story a little bit shorter… if the bird’s coming back to the same nest site – it’s very likely the same one. If something changes – you may eventually notice it.

    In my case – the general site the Phoebe used was taken over by a screech owl. No kids and unfortunately she came to her demise a month or so ago. Oh – and the oriole is back again like clockwork – looking for ‘his’ avocado tree which I haven’t wheeled out into the courtyard yet.

  6. Snowleopard says:


    I’ve been at the same location in south central NH since 1999. Noticed our first Phoebe in 2002. Each year at least one pair have returned, some years several, with a record of four active nests within 100 yards of the cabin.

    If we have a very hot or dry spell the Phoebes usually leave, sometimes returning when conditions moderate. Only one pair so far this spring, which is not surprising as it is still freezing some nights, and that is hard on their food supply. I’m always happy to see them, as multiple Phoebe nests are a blessing in years when mosquitoes would otherwise be intolerable.

To the stake with the heretic!