SAY’S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Say’s Phoebe adult has brown-grey upper parts and beige cinnamon under parts. The head is large relative to body size. Eyes, bill, legs and feet are black. Bird is about 20 cm (8 inches) long.
NAME: ‘Phoebe’ is an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call. ‘Say’s’ was given to this species in honor of American naturalist Thomas Say. Latin genus and species names are also doubly honoring him.
HABITAT: Dry and arid areas like savanna, but near water.
DIET: Stands upright on a perch, catches insects on the fly, goes back to perch. Also hovers above ground or water surface to catch insects. Will eat some berries.
NESTING: Nest is a cup-like structure built on vertical surfaces, either natural or man-made. About three to five creamy eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds mainly in western USA (except along the coast) and western Canada up to Yukon and Alaska. Year-round residents in southwest USA and parts of Mexico. Northern breeding populations will winter mainly in northeast Mexico.
Distribution Map:
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy. The first sighting occurred on August 29, 2015, at Basin Head.
CONSERVATION: Population large and widespread, currently not at risk.
NOTES: The phoebe is a species belonging to the Tyrant Flycatcher family.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe
REFERENCES: (BC Breeding Bird Atlas)

Say’s Phoebe – Cochise County, AZ – Apr. 2017 – photo by ADJ82
Say's phoebe, AZ, by ADJ82
Say’s Phoebe – Los Osos, CA – Jan. 2010 – photo by Linda Tanner
Say's phoebe, CA, Linda Tanner