They Say “phee-bee,” I Hear “sweet-tee.”

I’m not as avid a bird watcher as some, but I do like to spy on the wrens who for the past few years have built a nest inside the hollow crossbow of our clothesline pole. The bed sheets have mainly gone in the dryer since this began, even on a sunny day. I don’t want to disrupt the wren household as it seems to be a pretty busy abode. And, I sure don’t want them blitzing on my satins!

It’s fun to see the mamas and the papas fly in with grass or little twigs in their beaks as they prepare a cozy spot for their young. If I don’t happen to be out there at just the right time, I do know construction is underway because of all the fluff and stuff that’s fallen to the ground. It’s also fun to see the wren babies peek out when that time comes. I’ve never been fortunate enough to see one take its first flight but hopefully one year I will. And I do so love the song of the wren.

There’s another bird whose call has long charmed me. I’ve scanned branch after branch, but I’ve never been able to spot the one who seems to have two whistles, the first a little higher pitched than the second.

Eastern Phoebe

We’ve heard it so many times when our sons and daughters-in-law have been here and Jyl is convinced this bird whistles, “sweet-tee, and soon receives a, “sweet-tee,” in return.

I was thrilled to learn from Mike Jacobs’ always in Season Herald column on June 5 that this bird is the Eastern Phoebe. I know without a doubt that we are talking about the same bird because Mike describes the call as a rather high-pitched whistle that does remotely sound like, “phee-bee.” 

Well, I’m convinced that, “phee-bee,” is “sweet-tee” in bird lingo!

On Google I read that the Eastern Phoebe was the first bird to be banded in North America. In 1804, John James Audubon used a silver thread attached to its leg to note when the bird would return each year. And, that unlike most songbirds who must hear other birds to hone their vocalizations, an Eastern Phoebe raised in isolation will still sing a perfect song.

I also read that the Eastern Phoebe is the most familiar flycatcher in eastern North America. It nests near people on buildings and bridges. It can be recognized by its resounding, “sweet-tee” call and its habit of constantly wagging its tail.

Every single day, from my deck, I look forward to hearing, “sweet-tee.” And every single day when I do, I whistle â, “sweet-tee,” back.

Can’t wait to tell Jyl.

Until soon

1 Response

  1. jyl dunavan

    I’m sitting here listening to them flirt with one another out my kitchen window this morning. I surely miss them come winter. ooo…I didn’t just say that word, did I?

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