A Tiny New Neighbor

Day 14 of 365

A few weeks ago, we noticed that some tiny birds were building a magnificently-messy nest by our back deck. At first, we weren’t sure what kind of birds had moved in right next door (well, above the window and on the drain pipe). They were very busy building the nest–at least I thought there were two birds building the nest. It turns out, our new neighbors are Eastern Phoebes, and I learned that the female builds the nest all by herself. I swear, she was working so hard it surely seemed like there were two of her.

This reminds me of some of my mom friends. Maybe all of my mom friends.

Eastern Phoebe by Patrice Bouchard

We were worried at first about disturbing the nest. We love our giant deck and always spend a lot of time out there in the summer. We were willing to stay away for the sake of the birds, but I learned that Eastern Phoebes are quite people tolerant. This made me happier than I can say–and not just because we were going to be able to keep using our deck. This meant I was going to get to watch some beautiful birds this summer. I was so excited thinking about what I might learn from our tiny new neighbor.

Though Eastern Phoebes are supposedly very people tolerant, I am still careful not to get too close. I can see that the female is sitting on her eggs, just like Ruby in tiny form. Eastern Phoebes have long tails, so every day, I see her up there and just see her little head and her little tail. Sometimes, when I am busying around on the deck, I see her watching me. This makes my day.

You can see her up there, right? If you look closely, you an see here little head, and, of course, her magnificent tail sticks out from the back of the nest.

Last weekend was the first time I saw her watching me. I was on the deck a long time planting seeds into flower pots, and I had been looking and looking at the nest but couldn’t see her. I was actually worried she had moved, that maybe we had disturbed her too much. But after a bit, I was sure I felt someone watching me. I looked over my shoulder, and there she was, up in her nest, with her head leaned over, peeking out at me.

I fell in love with her right then.

I told her I would never get too close to bother her. I am assuming she was thinking, “I have concerns about our neighbors.”

But I have been very good. I have kept my distance, but I take peeks at her several times a day. She’s almost always there. I read tonight her eggs will hatch in 16 days. I don’t know for sure when she started, but I think there may be babies very soon. I also read Phoebes will usually hatch two broods. Lucky me!

I also read tonight that the male defends his nesting territory with his singing, especially at dawn. Fantastically, I hear him every morning. He sings “fee-bee, fee-bee, fee-bee” every single morning at dawn. His favorite tree seems to be the one right outside our bedroom window.

This morning, the windows were open, and I first heard the little male Phoebe about 5:30 or so. It was just a little bit of heaven for me. I didn’t have to get up yet and start the day, so I just lay there with the morning light coming in the window and “fee-bee, fee-bee, fee-bee” filling the air. Ron can’t hear the Phoebe. His little call is too high pitched for Ron’s ears, so as I lay there,, I just treasured this little miracle of morning that, in the moment, felt like it was just for me.


Ruby is doing fairly well, but I worry about her color. Her comb is so pale. She’s eating and drinking some, but I am thankful the baby chicks will be hatching fairly soon. I had to pull her off of her nest this morning to make her take a short break. She didn’t stay away very long at all. She’s very serious about this. But I did sneak away a few eggs for a quick candling. The Salmon Faverolle eggs were all developing beautifully. I could see the shapes of the babies coming. Sadly, I am not sure that Juliet’s egg is developing. The shell is dark, and I was hurrying, which means I am not sure. Still, I don’t think it’s hopeful for our little cowbird’s egg. I’ll try to take another peek in a few days to confirm.

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