No, we’re not doing ‘Fowl Friday’ on a Wednesday, but late Monday afternoon, I went out to check on some transplants on the front deck (now secured from deck-roaming deer), and was startled when a bird bolted past my brow.

About a week ago we’d noticed a bit of a mess on top of our porch light.  More than the typical accumulation of spiderwebs and dust.  This was more of an organized mess, with bits of leaves and moss twined in with spider webs.  It seemed someone was attempting to build a nest.

It hasn't been that long since I cleaned the porch light

Figuring that our front door is a rather high-traffic location, I expected this project could be abandoned in favor of a more suitable, less hectic, location…like a tree?  My near-miss with this brow-buzzing bird though would suggest I was wrong.

I’d seen a little male flycatcher hanging out on the front deck for the last week or so, and watched as he patiently hopped around, gathering spider webs from under the porch railing.  So I had an idea who might be in residence on the nest.

As I looked atop the light, it seemed the heap of moss, leaves, and webs was unoccupied…and because I’m significantly shorter than the top of our porch-light, I decided to use my camera as a periscope.  Trying to focus with the camera held high over my head, without the benefit of the viewfinder, made for a few rather uninteresting results at first…

Need to readjust the lens...try zooming out a bit first try zooming in...

…wait a minute, what’s that bright spot in the middle?  Two or three more shots later…



EGGS?!  Apparently nest construction is complete, and our new tenants have obtained their certificate of occupancy already!  I quickly removed myself from the porch, so as not to deter the female so she could feel comfortable resuming incubation duties undisturbed.

Fortunately, our foyer though serves as a rather handy blind.  I can see the nest through the window in the front door, so I watched for a while, and then broke out my rather dogeared and tattered Sibley book.  At first I thought perhaps Dusky Flycatcher, or maybe even a Hammond’s, but Sibley refuted both of those notions, as we’re merely in their migration zone, not their typical breeding realm. Then I flipped a page or two back…ah ha!  Pacific-Slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis), and here’s our Mother-to-be…

"Can I help you?"

I then had to rummage around to see if the photograph of the eggs I’d acquired matched the description of eggs laid by this species, and indeed they do.  “Dull to creamy white; spotted and blotched with browns, usually concentrated about large end” (Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds’ Nests).  So it seems we have nesting Pacific-slope Flycatchers on our front porch.  As near as I could determine with my wobbly over-head camera shooting, it looks like we have four eggs in total.  Incubation is 14-15 days, and apparently they often hatch 2 broods per year!

Porch lights don’t seem like the most sensible place to make a nest.  The topography is tricky, and the surface is quite slick.  Although I suppose you do eliminate the risks of predators that can climb trees.  Without wings, it’s unlikely anything is going to make it up there.  For us, it’s a minor inconvenience, but nothing we can’t work around.  We’ve taken to using the back door for now so we don’t disturb our new mother-to-be.


Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis), female incubating eggs

We do rather wonder if part of the reason they chose this spot is because of the hoards of moths that congregate under the light at night?  Our dark-eyed Juncos discovered the all-you-can-eat moth-buffet some time ago, and some mornings the carnage, various colored moth wings scattered across the door mat, is quite impressive!  Apparently moth wings aren’t so tasty though.

Now we’ll have to wait and see if these little flycatcher eggs hatch…more soon, we hope!