Posted by: atowhee | October 24, 2020


That chest is not dark gray it is rusty in bad light…birder using blackburnian handle says “bluebird”…duh!
I knew on a Carolina bird I was out of my depth, or territory…

A life-long friend of mine is becoming a covid-inspired birder. He and his wife are my age and not traveling a lot, spending as much isolated time as they can, staying safe…he really wants to live to see the next Presidential Inauguration, he tells me. So he notices the birds and I’ve posted some of his sightings here previously. Today’s images really got me going. First there was an Eastern Bluebird, pleasant, ordinary, sure enough…then there was this one:

This bird was photographed earlier this week near Hertford, NC.

I looked and first thought to myself–hmm, didn’t think Eastern Phoebes were so dark on the front…pewee? Nah…then I began looking at images. Then I wrote this email to my friend:
“the bird facing the camera would be easy to ID out here–Black Phoebe, but your eastern cousin, Eastern Phoebe is supposed to have a pale throat!  This may be a rare melanistic bird…highly unlikely that one of our western phoebes caught a jet and flew to east coast…even in Texas the Black Phoebe arouses interest…in North Carolina it would draw crowds, probably no state record of such*…none of my field guides or online images show the dark throat for your bird!!!!!!!!!!!”

The Black Phoebe is not a migratory species and doesn’t seem to fly thousands of miles annually, so…. My wife suggests maybe the bird, if phoebe it be, hitched a ride on a truck or train, then hopped off somewhere in North Carolina?

*I am now trying to contact expert Carolinian birders. Here is link to the North Carolina Bird Records Committee’s state list…no sighting of Black Phoebe has ever been credited there.


  1. Eastern bluebird??

    • yes indeed, my color blind eyes didn’t pick up the rusty color

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