Foam Lake Birding No. 150

            We are now in sunny southern California and really enjoying all that this different climate has to offer.  Many of the plants and animals found here are unique to this and adjoining areas making it interesting for birders like us. 
            The first day that we were here a Black Phoebe landed in a shrub in our daughter’s back yard.  It did not do very much save for sitting for a few minutes and then flying off.  Even though it did nothing exciting it did provide me with a topic for this week. 
            The Black Phoebe is common throughout the American southwest wherever there is water.  Any desert spring or stream is always surrounded by lush vegetation and a pair of Black Phoebes will almost always be present.  In short, although Black Phoebes live in desert areas, they really are not desert birds at all. 
            The Black Phoebe is a typical flycatcher sitting on a prominent perch then suddenly flying out to snag a flying insect.  When perched, Black Phoebes, like all flycatchers, sit in a very upright or erect fashion.  This characteristic is very useful in identifying flycatchers in general as most perching birds sit in a more horizontal position. 
            In terms of field marks the Black Phoebe is very easy to identify.  It is a sparrow sized black bird with a clearly defined white belly and white outer tail feathers.  The only bird that it could be confused with is the slate coloured form of the Dark Eyed Junco.  This is not very likely as the two species behave very differently. 
            Although the Black Phoebe is very common right here in Carlsbad this week’s picture was taken several years ago in Big Bend National Park in Texas. This one was sitting on a communications antenna.