Documentation of Black Phoebe

Observer Information

Reporter:  Joe Mammoser  312 Dunne Drive,   Fort Collins, CO  80525
Other Observers: 

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Black Phoebe
First Date/Time:  4/15/2020 10:10:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  4/15/2020 10:30:00 AM
Duration (total time in view):  20 minutes
County:  Larimer
Specific Location:  Rigden Reservoir at Arapaho Bend Natural Area
Number:  1
Age:  Adult
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Breeding


Along fenceline along the railroad tracks and in willows along stream

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Bausch and Lomb Elite 10X42 binoculars
Distance:  approximately 40 feet
Light:  Fairly bright with sun behind me

Description of the Bird

The bird was typical flycatcher structure with a big head appearance and posture when sitting. The back was very dark grayish/black as was the head, wings  and tail. The throat was the same dark color as the back. The flanks were also the same color as the back. The sides of the breast were also the same color as the back. The middle of the breast was very white and this expanded to the entire width of the lower flanks giving a whitish triangle look when viewed from the front with the point of the triangle at the middle of the breast. The eyes and bill were also black.

The bird would sit on wooden fence posts and flycatch from there going to the ground and out in air catching small prey that I could not see. It would then land again on either the fence post or another fence post or the top wire of the fence. This behaviour was repeated dozens of times. After about 20 minutes, I turned to follow a Swallow that was flying by. When I turned back, the Phoebe was gone and I could not relocate.

Similar Species Discussion

The flycatching actions and big-head structure pointed straight to a flycatcher. It was too large for a warbler and no other bird normally acts like that. Once I got a clear look at the bird from the back and front, I did not consider any other bird.

Resources Used

My memory. I have seen dozens of Black Phoebes in the southwest and California and have seen 6 in Colorado now.

Previous Experience

I have seen dozens of Black Phoebes in the U. S. including Colorado.



Materials Available

Photographer: Joe Mammoser

Photos |


Date Documentation Submitted

4/23/2020 3:22:00 PM
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