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Eastern Phoebe
Sayornis phoebe

Featured image credit: “Eastern Phoebe” by Matt Tillett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Phoebe is the first bird I hear and I know spring is here. Every year without fail, in mid-February “FEE-bee …. FEE-bee!”

But this year…. THIS year…. oh Phoebe. You have too much testosterone.

It started at the back mudroom door. It’s all glass. In the morning, I started to hear some kind of knocking. When I went to see who’s at the door, I saw Mr.Phoebe perched on the door handle, and constantly flying into and pecking at it’s reflection in the glass. There was a nice pile of poop at the bottom as well. Oh. I see. I put up one of those bird decals on the spot it was hitting. Didn’t matter. It just changed location.

I got a bunch of paper. And I taped it to the outside of the door. But I didn’t bother to get a tall ladder to affix paper to the top 2 feet. Guess what? The Phoebe would fly from about 5 feet away into that 2 foot gap and just keep attacking itself. Or it would just stay on the door handle and launch from there. FOR HOURS.

Then it decided to move to my bathroom window. It perched on the little sill there and (pooped all down the house) and just attacked it’s reflection all morning long. POCK. BOCK, BUMP, SWOCK. It wouldn’t stop. It was very persistent, and it was going to WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST ITSELF. I’d see it’s little head poking up from the window sill when I was washing my face. HEYYYY Phoebe! No! Bad Bird! You Git!

This happened for about three weeks. I finally looked up what to do and I pulled the shade down. But then the Phoebe moved up to a upstairs window. POCK. POCK. pause… POCK POCK…. pause… POCK… pause I started getting a little unhinged. Perhaps this bird was looking for a mate, and inside the house was me. Was he in love with me? Do I look especially small and feathery? I do like to wear grey.

I started shouting at it and jumping at the window enough times that if I was close enough and just shouted “HEY” it could hear me enough that it would fly to a nearby tree. But then it would come back in about 10 minutes. ALL DAY LONG. I was getting my exercise running from one window to another.

So, I taped paper to that window too. Then the bird went to a different window. I pulled the shade down on that one (not all my windows have shades).

THIS WENT ON FOR TWO MONTHS. Two months!! Every day!! The Phoebe was battling itself, and I was battling the bird…. or was I battling myself?

Eventually I gave up. And then, eventually, it subsided. I started noticing two Phoebe birds around the house … the potential mate? I hope it’s true! This male was really doing everything to fight for it’s territory, and he deserves a fine feathery female for all of that effort.

To hear songs, learn identification information, migratory patterns, and some fun facts, check out the Eastern Phoebe page offered by one of my favorite resources: the Cornell Lab of Ornithology »

OMG look below IT IS TOO CUTE!!!!

All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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