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Black Phoebe - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies semiater
Photo © by mw_aurora
Santee, California, USA, February 2007
Sayornis nigricans


15–18 cm (6-7 in)

  • Black head, breast, back, wings, and tail
  • White underbelly and wing-covert edges (forming 2 faint wing bars)


Subspecies angustrirostris
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Oxapampa, Peru, 20 August 2017

North, Central and South America:
South-western North America: found in (south-western Oregon and California to west Texas).
Central America: (from Panama to Mexico)
Mountainous areas of South America: (Andes of north-western Argentina, western Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela; coastal mountains of Venezuela);



There are 6 subspecies1:


Subspecies semiater
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Floresville River Park, Floresville, Wilson County, Texas, USA, 19 May 2018

Open woodlands near water, such as streams, rivers, lakes and coastal cliffs.



Like other phoebes, they continually wag their tails when perched.


They sally from open perches for flying insects. The diet consists insects such as bees, wasps, grasshoppers, moths, caterpillars and beetles. They also reportedly take small fish.


The female builds the nest from grass and mud under a wall, bridge or cliff. The 3-6 white eggs are incubated for about 14 days; the young fledge in about another 14 days. Often two broods are raised in a season.


Photo © by Andy Bright
Los Angeles, California, USA, 7 July 2005

Song: a series of phrases, rendered sisee and sitsew
Call: similar to that of the Eastern Phoebe.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. https://www.allaboutbirds.org Accessed on 27 April 2020
  3. Farnsworth, A. & Lebbin, D. (2020). Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/57380 on 27 April 2020).
  4. Wolf, B. O. (2020). Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.blkpho.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.