My first sighting of an Eastern Phoebe each year is, for me, when spring officially begins.  I finally got my first phoebe of the year yesterday, Saturday, 19 March, a mere eighteen days after the first phoebe of the season was reported in New York City.  I actually ended up seeing two examples of Sayornis phoebe at Alley Pond Park in Queens yesterday and even got a kind of lousy) shot of one to share with you!  Spotting my first phoebe is both a relief because winter is over and a letdown because there is only one first phoebe each year and they are never exciting as anticipation makes them seem they should be.  Though astronomers will say that today is the first official day of spring I (and now you) know better.  Spring is when the phoebes come.

my first phoebe of 2011

Though I am glad that I beat last year’s first phoebe sighting by nearly two weeks, seeing my first on the 19th is exactly average for me.  In the last five years I have always seen my first phoebe in March, specifically on the 3rd, 26th, 21st, 15th, and 31st.  Average them and you get 19!  I guess 2011 will be a standard year of birding for me.

Assuming you live in an area where they occur and don’t winter, have you gotten your first Eastern Phoebe of the year and when?  And, if you don’t get Eastern Phoebe or if they winter, what species do you use as your sure sign that spring has arrived?

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.