poetry and prose about place

nest of the Eastern Phoebe

with 7 comments

This time of year, I hear a wheezy call in our maple tree.  The Eastern Phoebe has arrived, to build a nest under the eaves of our shed.


The Phoebe makes an appearance in the book I am writing – ‘Crossing at a Walk’.  I have just reached Draft #5 of the writing, a time when I edit for adverbs, sentence length, repeated phrases and so on.  I also work to clarify the plot and the story, making certain my characters are true to their missions in the book.  At this stage, the editing is a bit of a blur.


Here is an excerpt from the book.  The Eastern Phoebe has come to check out the Whisper Wind Writers’ Retreat (the setting for my story). Tom will encounter three Phoebe’s in the book: the shrill ‘fee-bee’ song of the Chickadee in spring, the Eastern Phoebe with its nasal ‘phee-bee’, and the name ‘Phoebe’ carved in the covered bridge …


 I am in our garage, cutting leaves from a sheet of copper for a new wind sculpture. I glimpse a quick flutter outside the window and hear knocking in the eaves.

I put the tin snips down on the workbench and step outside to investigate. At one corner of the garage, up under the edges of the roof, is the nest of a bird, constructed within the last few days.

As I lean to get a better look, the mighty construction worker flies out and swoops up to the height of one of our birch trees.  It tilts its black head and says, in two raspy, out-of-tune syllables, ‘phee-bee’.  The sound is nasal and cheerless, quite different from the bright ‘fee-bee’ of the chickadee in spring. 

An Eastern Phoebe! A charming grey bird with a puffed black hairdo and a dirty white throat. The phoebe sits in the tree and wags his tail. He says, again, ‘phee-bee.’

Every morning in June he wakes me.

‘What on earth is that annoying bird song?’ says sleepy Sadie.

‘You could hardly call it a song,’ I answer.


For more about the three Phoebes, see my post for May 4, 2015 ‘spring orchestra – fee-bee’.



the nest of the Eastern Phoebe – notice this Phoebe has found a few strands of tinsel from our Christmas tree to decorate his home!


Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 27, 2015 at 7:43 am

7 Responses

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  1. I am looking forward to reading your books, Jane. This seems like a silly thing to say/write (because of course you would write about what you know), but I love the way your bring in the details of the things you encounter in your life, things you’ve given us glimpses of here on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

    • Hi Robin. Thank you. I wish I knew more. I am beginning a new project on covered bridges and how I wish I could identify all the bird songs I hear. Life is learning! Jane


      jane tims

      May 28, 2015 at 9:28 am

      • If you find a good source for learning bird songs, please let me know. It’s something I’d like to learn, too. I was just talking with my husband about it the other day because I have learned a few songs, but most of what I hear goes unidentified. When I read about bird songs, it seems I don’t hear it the same way as the folks who write the field guides. For instance, there was a bird chanting what I thought was “cheater, cheater, cheater.” Turns out it’s “peter, peter, peter” although I still hear the “ch” at the beginning. (And now I’ve forgotten what kind of bird it is! Ack!)

        Liked by 1 person


        May 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

      • Hi. The Cornell University bird song clips are very good and it teaches you to listen well My problem is my memory. I hear a song, write out a mnemonic but by the time I hear a few possibilities, the original has been erased from my brain! Jane


        jane tims

        May 28, 2015 at 9:44 am

  2. Just think how proud he will be of your published work since he knows his listening helped to move it forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    Carol Steel

    May 27, 2015 at 9:10 am

  3. In addition to the topics of your blogs, I find delight in the natural details you provide about the world around us. I wish I knew all those details but have to do lots of research to find them. I can hardly wait for your books to be published. I am a fan of the way you write. The thoughts are clear and intriguing and the images are subtle, never standing in the way of the narrative by calling attention to themselves. I often go back and re-read what you’ve written to see how you did what you did. Good luck with editing, slogging through the words. Thanks for sharing the photo of the nest under the eaves. The tinsel is a decorator’s choice. Everyone loves a bit of shininess.

    Liked by 1 person

    Carol Steel

    May 27, 2015 at 8:33 am

    • Hi Carol. Thank you. You give me hope. My husband does not enjoy this stage of the writing since every night I read a chapter aloud. I wish I could post every paragraph of the book. Just posting this small bit resulted in several edits. It is like hearing the words through the ears of all my readers. Jane


      jane tims

      May 27, 2015 at 8:53 am

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