Our Porch Resident

As promised – it’s Phoebe Week here at HenCam!

Day One:

This is where I live:



Of course, a house is not just the home of the people who live inside. So many creatures live on the walls (daddy longlegs) and under the steps (chipmunks) and in the attic (bats, who we love to see swooping around at dusk, decimating the mosquito population.)

We hang the bunting up for Memorial Day, and take it down the week after July Fourth. But not this year. This year we have to wait until our newest residents leave home.

This springtime we saw this fellow flying around the front yard. It’s a drab little bird with a lovely call – fee-bee! (Hear it here.)

Eastern Phoebe


It’s an Eastern Phoebe, and not only do I appreciate it for the birdsong, but also for its feeding habits. The Phoebe is in the flycatcher family, and eats flying insects, including wasps, and also eats ticks. So, I was especially pleased when I saw a Phoebe carrying nesting material to the porch. 

 say that there are no distinguishing marks to tell the sexes apart, but I’m guessing that this is a female, because she’s the nest builder. (The male points out a good site, and then lets her do the work. .)

nest building


A pair of Eastern Phoebes claimed a prime nesting location above the first pillar of our front porch. They built the most beautiful nest I’ve ever seen, using moss, strands of dried grass, and goat hair. Each day the female Phoebe laid a perfect, very small, brown egg. She stopped laying when she had a clutch of five.

Phoebe nest


Then she sat. (The female does the incubating, and that’s how I know that she is a she.)

Phoebe on nest


Check back tomorrow to find out what happened next!


  1. We have at least six nesting pairs of phoebes in and around the eaves of our house. Most of them fledged their first clutch about 2 weeks ago; last week they were busy sprucing up their nests getting ready for a second round!

  2. When do you take photos of the nest? Does it scare the bird?
    Looks really cool!

    • Phoebes nest near homes and in barns and don’t mind people. We do try to leave it be, and many of the photos were taken from inside the house. We also left a ladder on the porch so it’d be used to that.

  3. Adorable pics!! You should NestWatch the nest!! nestwatch.org (a program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

  4. Thank you! I love your magical photos and this short glimpse of this fabulous moment of life :) We don’t have phoebe’s here in California. Lucky you.

  5. When I lived on Wolf Rock Road a bird (could well have been a phoebe) built a nest on top of an outside light fixture up under the overhanging roof of our Deck House. We could go out on the deck and observe but I taped down the light switches so the eggs wouldn’t get baked! Eggs hatched and parents were busy bringing tasty bugs. The nestlings grew rapidly and started to perch on the edge of the nest. One day I stuck my head out the door and they all took off. For a week or two there were lots of fledglings being cared for by a couple of adult birds. I figured it was at least two families merged. I took down the nest and the birds never tried to nest in that spot again.

  6. The perfection that is that nest just slays me. It almost looks artificial. I have a Robin’s nest on my property that is equally perfect. I have to prune the large burning bush shrub the nest is on and was thinking of cutting it out and displaying it in the house. Does anyone know if Robin’s reuse their nests, and if not, how to render the nest free of parasites?

  7. that nest really is beautiful. and such teeny tiny eggs.