Country Birder... and Butterflies 

Eastern Phoebe
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Eastern Phoebe.  The Eastern Phoebe is a member of the group of birds known as "Tyrant Flycatchers".  The name "flycatcher" is obvious for this family of birds that specialize in catching insects in flight.  "Tyrant", however, is not as obvious.  One online reference source (Columbia Encyclopedia) states this family of birds earned the name "tyrant" given their tenacity in harassing birds much larger than they, such as hawks and crows, in order to defend their nests and territory.
Central Indiana - October 3, 2006
Eastern Phoebe.  Field guides indicate that Eastern Phoebes are much like Barn Swallows in that they take advantage of man-made structures such as barns, culverts, bridges, and house eves and gutters for nest building.  They are said to be found near humans, and also near water. 
Central Indiana - October 3, 2006
Eastern Phoebe.  While Eastern Phoebes claim Indiana and northward for their summer breeding range, field guides indicate their winter and year-round ranges are further south in the southernmost tip of Illinois and across the state of Tennessee and beyond.  I have not noticed them except in early spring and late fall, and suspect the one in these photos was migrating to its winter territory.
Central Indiana - October 3, 2006
Eastern Phoebe.  Since the coloration of many flycatchers is drab olive, brown, or gray, it's easy to overlook these birds or mistake them if given just a glance for a junco ("Snowbird") or common sparrow.  Watch among your trees and shrubs for a bird that sallies forth from spot to spot in pursuit of insects, and wags its tail when perched.  Unlike sparrows or juncos, members of the flycatcher family will have a long, thin and flattened beak, broad shoulders, and generally rounded or slightly forked tails.
Central Indiana - October 3, 2006

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