Naturalist’s Notebook: Phoebe Tales Part Two, Big Surprises!

Sometimes a nature detective gets a nice surprise when you see something you don’t expect. In the last installment of Naturalist’s Notebook titled “Baby Photos,” I talked about the baby birds around my house. 

It has been fun keeping a photo journal as the Eastern Phoebe babies have grown. The Phoebe nest is close enough that when I use a two step stool and raise my arms over my head, the camera is on level with the nest. I usually snap only one or two pictures, and then I leave the little birds alone for the rest of the day.

When I snapped their daily photograph on April 27th, the Phoebe babies were looking very crowded in the nest. It was easy to see they were quickly getting their adult feathers.

The next day, April 28th, I took another photo. What a shock when I went inside the house and enlarged it. I looked closely, and there were FOUR little Eastern Phoebes! For over a week, I had been sure there were only three babies because that was all my photos had shown. What a nice surprise!

April 29th: This morning I watched a parent feed the youngsters and when it perched close by, I snapped the adult bird’s photo. 

I noticed the youngsters were sitting very high in the nest, and it seemed like a good photo opportunity. I quickly set up the step stool under the nest and climbed up to get a picture. 

I took one picture, and then I got a HUGE surprise. All four baby birds immediately jumped from the nest and flew away in four different directions! Not only had their feathers come in, they were all ready and able to leave the nest. 

Usually little birds are very clumsy when they first try out their wings. Some attempts don’t go very well, and they flutter and flop around for a while. The first flight for these Phoebes looked like they had been flying for a long time. Every single one easily flew into the woods 50 to 100 feet away.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in Naturalist’s Notebook, and keep looking for neat things happening around your yard.

Mr. Bill

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