Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Matthew L. Niemiller

Committee Member

Paul Wolf

Committee Member

Than Boves


Eastern phoebe--Nests, Biospeleology


The Eastern Phoebe (Saynoris phoebe) is a medium-sized flycatcher found throughout eastern North America that traditionally nested in cave entrance zones. However, with the onset of human civilization and the adoption of man-made structures (e.g., barns, porches, bridges), the Eastern Phoebe’s population has dramatically increased (over 90%) in recent years. There has been little recent research regarding the continued use of cave entrances as nesting sites by the Eastern Phoebe. In this study, I surveyed 50 cave entrances in northern Alabama and south-central Tennessee to determine the environmental factors that influence the use of cave entrances as nesting sites. Evidence of nesting was observed at 62% of cave entrances, indicating that the Eastern Phoebe continues to use cave entrances for nesting. Important factors related to nest presence include open forest canopies, food, ledges for nest support, cave entrance dimensions, water, shelter, security from predation, and nest substance.



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