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WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

Black Phoebe’s at Julia Butler-Hansen Refuge

By Jon Heale

Black Phoebe - Image by Jon Heale

Historically an occasional visitor, the Black Phoebe was a rare sight at the Julia Butler-Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer; there had been a few sightings each year, but no known nests.

In 2014 refuge staff noticed a pair frequenting the covered corner of a tide gate and decided to check it out…a nest! Staff thought there had been a successful first brood, as two to three more Phoebe’s were hanging around throughout late spring-early summer. However, a second clutch of eggs was apparently unsuccessful as they remain in the unattended nest throughout summer.

As I write this (March 13), the Phoebe’s are in the process of building a new nest in the opposite corner of the tide gate. The pair is hard at work gathering blades of grass, stems, and mud. Make a stop into the refuge office and check them out!

They can often be spotted from the Headquarters observation deck, near the tide gate under Steamboat Slough Road.