Eastern Phoebe

Photo by Jean Chamberlain
Long Creek Park, Winston-Salem, NC October 20,2020
October 20, 2020 Long Creek Park

Sayornis phoebe


1 fee-bee
2 fee-b-be-be

What is known about the phoebe song?


• Sings 2 songs: fee-bee  and fee-b-be-bee
• Male sings to attract a female and to announce territory (Smith 1969d)


• Female rarely sings  

How and when is song acquired?

• No evidence of vocal learning
• No song learning center in brain (xxxxxxxxxxxxx source? xxxxxxxxxxxx)
• Normal vocalizations develop at the beginning of first year
(Kroodsma 1985)
• Develops normal songs even when isolated from other phoebes (Kroodsma 1989a)
• Little variation among individuals (Smith 1969d)

How can we facilitate learning for phoebes

• Song is innate, not learned


Kroodsma, D. E. (1985a). Development and use of two song forms by the Eastern Phoebe. Wilson Bulletin 97:21-29.

Kroodsma, D. E. 1989a. Male eastern phoebes (Sayornis phoebe; Tyrannidae, Passeriformes) fail to imitate songs. J. comp. Psychol., 103,227-32.

Smith, W. J. (1969). Displays of Sayornis phoebe (Aves, Tyrannidae). Behaviour 33:283–322.