Friday, March 20, 2009

The First Phoebe


And so it's spring! I saw my first Eastern Phoebe of spring migration Wednesday morning at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Naturally, it was flycatching near the entrance of the bridge over the stream at Park Street. I do not know for sure why they seem to favor such structures; perhaps food items (insects) are more plentiful there. Eastern Phoebes build nests situated on rocky ledges, walls, ravines, or in caves – something usually with an overhang. Human-made bridges may simply offer too much of an invitation to pass up. As I walked down the path, the phoebe flew up, perched high in one of the nearby oak trees and began singing with the sunlight illuminating its drab but smart looking plumage. I fixed my binoculars on the bird. I'll probably see and hear many individual Eastern Phoebes throughout this migration, but there's nothing like spending a little extra time admiring the first arrival encountered. Perhaps watching the diminutive flycatcher, I might advance my knowledge and understanding, even if only a little, of its habits and habitats. The phoebe's voice is simple poem, but one seemingly foretelling of great journeys yet to come by other birds. They are well on their way and will soon be in a natural area near you.

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.

Mary Oliver - The Place I want to Get Back To

Eastern Phoebe © 2009 Mike McDowell

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