Sayornis Nigricans – Black Phoebe

Sayornis Nigricans - Black Phoebe found in the US

The black phoebe, Sayornis nigricans is a tyrant-flycatcher family passerine bird. It is a year-round resident throughout most of its territory and migrates less than other birds in its genus, while its northern populations are largely migratory. Six subspecies are recognized, though two are occasionally merged to form a single species, the white-winged phoebe.

Quick Overview: Sayornis Nigricans – Black Phoebe
Body size: Around 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz)
Main colors: Black, White, Brown
Range: Western United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Black phoebe Description

The black phoebe’s plumage is mostly black, with a white belly and coverts on the under tail. Males and females are identical in color, while juveniles have brown feather ends and wing bars.

Sayornis Nigricans - Black Phoebe found in the US
Sayornis Nigricans – Black Phoebe. Photo by: PEHart


These birds have a length of 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz). Their wings could range from 10.5-11 in (27-28 cm).


The black phoebe’s primary diet consists of insects. It perches on a shady limb and watches for passing insects. It then swoops down and snatches the insect in mid-air. It also occasionally soars above the ground in search of prey.


The black phoebe inhabits open regions adjacent to lakes, streams, and ponds. Additionally, it is found in places adjacent to cliffs, agricultural areas, and municipal parks.


The Black Phoebe is mostly an insectivorous bird that forages in open regions near water, grass, or other substrates. It is a dexterous forager, sallying from perches just a few meters above the ground and hawking prey from the air or gleaning it from the ground or the surface of a pond.

Sayornis Nigricans Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Sayornis
  • Species: Sayornis nigricans

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Black phoebe in the USA

The black phoebe is a tyrant-flycatcher family passerine bird. From southwest Oregon and California through Central and South America, it breeds.

The Black phoebe can be found in the following states in the United States – Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Sayornis Nigricans – Black Phoebe

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