One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An American tyrant flycatcher with mainly gray-brown or blackish plumage.
Genus Sayornis, family Tyrannidae: three species, in particular the common eastern phoebe (S. phoebe)
- ‘I was sure the cowbird, a female, was targeting the phoebes, and apparently they knew it too.’
- ‘I can hear the songs of migrating birds: phoebes, white-throated sparrows, towhees, catbirds, chipping sparrows.’
- ‘Since we've identified plenty of phoebes in the field, I'm inclined to take this bird as a pewee.’
- ‘He tied silver cords around the legs of a group of phoebes, and spotted two of the banded nestlings when they returned the next year.’
- ‘Scientists now know that many birds with eyesight sufficiently keen to discern striped patterns - phoebes, swallows and martins among them - gobble up bees and wasps with apparent relish.’
- ‘I'm thinking a phoebe, purple martin, starling fluttering up, a kingbird, I have no idea what's on the lowest wire, a nuthatch and a robin.’
- ‘I assumed that all nest contents that disappeared between subsequent nest visits were removed by adult phoebes attending the nests.’
- ‘I saw a couple of snipe fly over, and a phoebe or two hung around the edge of the cattails.’
- ‘I can only assume from the brazen behavior of these phoebes that they were protecting a nest.’
- ‘When perched on shrubs, it often pumps its tail up and down like a phoebe.’
- ‘A phoebe and a scissor-tail worked the fence, and Barn Swallows perched along the wires or flew overhead.’
- ‘The phoebe seemed our sole wild bird for the day (feeders are cheaters!) but on the way back to the car, we chanced upon some yellow-bellied beauty of a warbler.’
- ‘U.S. bird expert John James Audubon marked some brown and yellow birds known as phoebes in 1803 with silver wire.’
- ‘Walking around the cemetery yielded a handful of red-wings, phoebes, doves, and Song Sparrows and nice looks at a Field Sparrow and a White-eyed Vireo.’
- ‘A pair of bluebirds and a phoebe dallied across the street, and a hummingbird zipped across the western sky.’
- ‘As April opens its world of promise and the sap rises in the tree, perhaps a phoebe, one of a returning phalanx, will stop to pause there.’
- ‘It may also be that parental phoebes attempted to dislodge cowbird shells and some were able to do so.’
- ‘I thought it looked large and had a white chest and speculated it was one of the you phoebes that are hanging around.’
- ‘Perhaps humans perform the same service for phoebes.’
- ‘Like other phoebes, Say's Phoebes bob their tails.’
Early 18th century: imitative; influenced by the name Phoebe.
A Titaness, daughter of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). She became the mother of Leto and thus the grandmother of Apollo and Artemis. In the later Greek writers, her name was often used for Selene (Moon).
A satellite of Saturn, the furthest from the planet and with an eccentric retrograde orbit, discovered in 1898. At a distance of 8 million miles (13 million km) from Saturn, it has a diameter of 137 miles (220 km).
From Greek Phoibē, literally ‘bright one’.
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