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Phoebe Nests on Houses

Have you seen a small black-and-white bird outside your window? Or a mud nest on your house? Project Phoebe needs your help! Our research team uses these Black Phoebe nests to study how birds respond to urbanization and other forms of environmental change.

If you have a nest on your house and would grant our team permission to study it, please email Sage at We will make short (5 min) visits to check nests every 3-5 days for 1-2 months and a few longer (2-3hr) visits to fit birds with ID bands and study their behavior. We will also place noninvasive equipment like thermometers near the nest using safe, damage-free adhesives or C-clamps.

Phoebe Nest Searching Team

We are also looking for community members in Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento, or Sacramento who would be interested in volunteering as a Phoebe nest searcher. Our field team will train volunteers on how to locate Black Phoebe nests, and volunteers will then survey their local parks for Phoebes and report any nests to us. We hope to launch our first Nest Searching Team in March 2024. If this sounds like fun, please email Sage at

A small bird with a black head and back and a white belly perches on a branch.
Black Phoebe perched on a branch. Gail Patricelli
A cup shaped mud nest adhered to a concrete wall. It is a bit shorter than a pencil in height.
Black Phoebe mud nest with a pencil for scale. Sage Madden

Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

Are you a UC Davis undergraduate student looking for research experience? Email Sage at! Project Phoebe mentors undergraduate students interested in field work, laboratory work, and computer-based analysis of Phoebe nest videos. Our application for 2024 field technicians will be posted for a couple of weeks in late November, but you can reach out any time to inquire about opportunities.

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