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The Black Phoebe is a flycatcher, a member of a very large family of birds. It is a western species with a range beginning in central Texas, extending through all of the desert southwest and much of Mexico, and running up the West Coast into southern Washington.
It is slightly larger than its close cousin, the Vermilion Flycatcher, but the Black Phoebe and Vermilion Flycatcher have almost identical body shapes. The two species have very different colored plumage, with the Black Phoebe’s black and white color scheme contrasting with the Vermilion Flycatcher’s scarlet and brown. Unlike Vermilions, female and male Black Phoebes have the same colored plumage.
These birds lack Vermilion Flycatchers’ brilliant colors, but I find that their black and white color scheme is attractive in its own right.
Black Phoebes’ preferred habitat is vegetation that is close water. I usually find these birds perching adjacent to a pond or a small stream. The phoebe will make aerial forays after flying insects and its flights are spectacular, frequently involving tight spirals and loops in the air. Often, one of these birds will return to its preferred perch again and again.
These pretty little flycatchers are vigorous singers with a distinctive, repeated staccato two-note call. I often hear one singing before I see it.
Images made with a Canon R5, Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1 IS L zoom lens, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 800, f7.1 @ 1/500, +1/3 stop exposure compensation.