Black Phoebe

Scientific Name: Sayornis nigricans

Pictures: (click for larger images)

A black phoebe perching near Hershey Hall. Photo by Jason Finley, Feb 2005.
A black phoebe perching in front of Kerckhoff Hall.  Photo by Jason Finley, 4/20/05.
Two juvenile black phoebe's waiting around for a free meal from mama.  Near Hershey Hall.  Photo by Jason Finley, July 2004.

A juvenile black phoebe on a popular phoebe perching spot: the sideview mirror of a UCLA van, near Hershey Hall.  Photo by Jason Finley, July 2004.

Baby black phoebes in a nest!  This was around the Anderson School.  How many are there?  Count up their little yellow beaks. Photo by Jason Finley, 4/22/05
Black Phoebe perching on a fire hydrant in the Math-Science quad. Photo by Jason Finley, 9/6/05.
Black Phoebe near the apartments in Westwood.  Photo by Sean Hoppes, 5/16/05.
Black Phoebe Illustration.  I think the bridge over the stream in the background is now the street across Dickson Plaza.

-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Small. 6"-7" in length (beak to tail), slightly larger than a sparrow.  Slate black head, upper chest, back, tail, eyes, and wings.  White belly and under-tail.  Ever-so-slightly pointed head.

Sound: Listen to a Black Phoebe calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Common year-round.

Location: All over campus.  I've regularly seen them near Hershey Hall, the Anderson School, and Moore Hall. They can also be seen near the dorms.

Notes: A.k.a. "Half and Half Birds" for being black on the top half and white on the bottom half.  They often flick their tails when they chirp, and they can be seen swooping down on the grass to grab insects.  They're known to stake out the same territory for years.  When you see them, you'll usually just see one or two, unless there are a few juveniles around still being cared for by a parent.


A few of these "dooryard" birds were here when we arrived and have gradually increased in numbers.  You may expect to see them about any of the buildings at any season.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.




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