They are about a week behind schedule as compared to last year. I wasn't even sure they were going to nest in the same spot again. There was actually a curious Carolina Wren checking out and reshaping the old nest for a few days.
Not to worry, though. Once the Phoebes made up their mind that they would settle in this spot, they immediately set to work reshaping it into a bowl fit for the finest Phoebe fledglings. (Say that 3 times fast!) It has been interesting to watch over the past few days how it has really taken shape. Lots of moss has been added around the outside, and it seems more firmly anchored to the side of the house. It's a big nest, though, to be sure. I think this is the third year this nest has been recycled.
This is the first year we have been able to observe them via video from day one. A bonus from this early observation: the male and female spent time together at the nest during the first few days. Time spent together lasts very briefly, as evidenced by the fact that we first started watching them on Friday, and by Tuesday the female was the only one captured on video at the nest 90% of the time. Based on which bird is doing what, we think the bird that raises and lowers the feathers on his head is the male (we call him Don King) and the one who doesn't raise head feathers is the female. We came to this conclusion because Don King mostly stands around while the female does most of the work (not using human sexist views here - the female is responsible for nest building and for incubating the eggs, as noted on BirdHouses101.com).
I would think that all this back and forth, back and forth, must be exhausting on the female. In this video I feel kind of bad for her: she comes in carrying a rather large bug in her beak and starts in on a little bowl shaping, at which point she drops the bug and continues with renovations. To me it looks like the bug gets caught on the side of the nest, so I don't know if maybe she was able to pick it up later or if she truly just forgot about it.
I would expect egg laying to begin in a few days, so incubation will probably start in the next week or so. I'll be sure to keep you posted.
P.S. I submitted a bird-themed poem to a competition over at Daily Writing Tips (opens in separate tab/window) - it's titled "Lucky". Go over and check it out if you have a chance. If you like it, please let your voice be heard by voting for it. Or vote for any of the other 9 poems - they are all great. Thank you!