The Black Phoebe is a common flycatcher on the West Coast. It is easily found in and around the San Francisco-San Jose area all year. Most of the time when we are doing local birding we will see one or two them. They tend to use low spots from which to do their fly catching, rocks, fence posts and the like, flying off a perch, grabbing an insect and then usually returning to the same perch. It’s my observation that they like green grassy areas, perhaps because of the type of insects that lawns draw. Since the drought in California and home owners have converted to xerophytic gardens I am seeing less of this species where in the past they were common.
A truly beautiful flycatcher. The salmon-colored flanks are characteristic of this species. When it flies, the long tail reminds me of a train on a bridal dress. The area around the “armpit” or “wing pit” as it is sometimes called is a more intense redder salmon color.
This species breeds in the south-central U.S. and winters from South Mexico down into Panama.