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Phoebe bird picture


Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) - 6.90 inches

Phoebe is one of those peaceful, confiding characters, which appropriates one corner of the roof of the wash-shed or the side porch without so much as saying "by your leave."

The consequences are not such as a good housekeeper would approve; for Phoebe transports a considerable amount of mud from the borders of the neighboring stream with which to build her nest, and then after it is built she fails to keep it clean; it usually swarms with innurnerahle parasites.

Both male and female birds are marked alike. Upper parts sooty brown with a greenish cast; crown dark or sepia brown; wings and tail also distinctly darker; outer half of outer tail feather dull white; under parts dull white with a yellowish tone; bill black. Nest, mostly a composition of mosses and mud, lined with grass and long hairs, bulky, and lodged at some roof or bridge (underneath) corner on a rafter. Egg white, sometimes with a few cinnamon brown specks. The bird is common throughout eastern North America, from Newfoundland southward.

Phoebe sits on the piazza rail or the rustic gate and contentedly sings his monotonous refrain, Phoebe ve-bliebt! Phoebe ve-bliebt! the second utterance, with its chopped­off syllable, sounding like a bit of mongrel German! The whole song is exactly what one says it is - "a hopelessly tuneless performance." Then he adds a touch of sentiment, and further: "but who that has heard it in early spring when the 'pussy-willow' seems almost to purr with soft blossoms, will not affirm that Phoebe touches cords dumb to more ambitious songsters! "

It is almost useless to place this "tuneless " song on the musical staff, yet the positions of the notes will aid one to recognize the inflections of the voice; here is the song: The tones are all burred, and all slurred, so the syllables are all lost in "swishing" whistles. Perhaps, also, the tracing of these lines with a pencil may help one to catch the rhythm.