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Black phoebe

Sayornis nigricans
Photo by Matthew Field (Wikipedia)

Common name:
black phoebe (en); papa-moscas-fibi-preto (pt); moucherolle noir (fr); mosquero negro (es)schwarzkopf-phoebetyrann (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

This species is found along the south-western coast of the United States, throughout Mexico and Central America and into South America, where it is found along the foothills of the Andes from Venezuela to northern Argentina.

These birds are 16 cm long and weigh 15-22 g.

The black phoebe is mostly found in open areas near water, around lakes, river, streams, channels and ditches. They are also found in rocky cliffs, scrublands and even within urban areas. This species occurs from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

They are mainly insectivorous, taking beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, wild bees, wasps, flies, moths, caterpillars. They are also kwon to eat small fishes and small berries.

Black phoebes nest in open, semi-circular cups made of mud mixed with moss and grasses, and lined with feathers and hairs. The nest is plastered to a sheltered spot such as a crevice in a cliff face, bridge supports, culverts or walls, most often near water. The female lays 3-6 white eggs with a few faint speckles, which she incubates alone for 15-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14-21 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per year.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the population is believed to be increasing overall. In North America the population has increased by 32% per decade over the last 4 decades. The black phoebe may benefit from many human activities, but destruction of riparian habitats and diversion of water is a concern.

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