|Don't know who this bird is looking at the babies. Sometimes wrens will come to steal a nest.|
We had a nest of phoebes on our porch again this year. A phoebe came and made four starts that amounted to four small piles of stuff between porch rafters. Reading about their habits, I learned that the male typically starts nests before the female arrives, and she decides which one will be "Home, Sweet Home" to her babies. She must have selected "Door Number 3", for finally, after a little bit of time went by, the third one down the line "took" and was completed and eggs were deposited.
Not long before the four young phoebes departed their nest (I missed it - they left sometime during the day when I was gone), I saw the momma bird sitting on the railing with a moth in her mouth. It was in head first with wings spread out on either side of her bill. It looked like she was smiling or had a mustache.
A bug refill
In momma's bill -
Moth wings spread wide
From side to side -
Her mustached grin
Will soon drop in
That nested peak
Of lifted beaks.
"Next could we try
©Donna JT Smith, 2015, all rights reserved
I am still disappointed in the sound of a phoebe. When I was a little girl, my mother had told me that a phoebe says "phoebe". For years when I heard phoebes calling, I was thrilled to hear them! I love that sound!
While listening to the birds, occasionally I would hear what seemed like a broken phoebe. It's voice was harsh, and almost sounded like a phoebe with laryngitis... it was more like it was saying "feed me" than "phoebe". And there was definitely no polite "please" involved. I felt bad for the poor phoebe who couldn't sing!
Then one day I was looking at those Audubon birds that you squeeze and they make the bird's sound. I picked up a black capped chickadee, Maine's state bird, and gave it a squeeze, expecting to hear it's "chick-a-dee-dee-dee", but instead I heard "phoebe"....
Well, certainly this must have been a mistake. Someone put the wrong voice box in this chickadee! Phoebe's say "phoebe" and chickadees say "chick-a-dee", right?
After a bit of research online on various bird web sites, I discovered that the hoarse, throaty "feed-me" was actually the true phoebe sound, and the chickadee said both its name and the phoebe's name. And, to add insult to injury, it said "phoebe" much more clearly, musically and politely than a phoebe ever could.
I wonder if Mom ever knew that, or if I just heard the chickadee once and assumed it was a phoebe saying it, and didn't ask about it. I'm adjusting to the new association of sound and bird.
I was visiting with my sister last week I heard a phoebe call and asked her if she knew that chickadees said "phoebe". No, she did not. She was as disappointed as I. Hopefully, she will get used to the new voice of the phoebes and chickadees, too.
Just when you think you couldn't possibly hold another morsel - your brain calls out "Feed me!".
Morsels to feed you -
Here's a YouTube with all the calls of a Chickadee:
This one below starts out with a chickadee image but then goes to the phoebe that the person recording notices. The phoebe's call is then recorded instead of the chickadee's.