The black phoebe has predominantly black plumage, with a white belly and undertail coverts. The sexes are identical in color, and juveniles have brown feather tips and brown wing-bars. Its song is a repeated tee-hee, tee ho. It lives in a variety of habitats but is always near water. It is mainly insectivorous and waits on a perch before flying out and catching its prey in the air. It makes an open cup nest which is placed under a cliff or a bridge and cemented in its place with mud.