January February March April May June July August September October November December (2)
January (8) February (7) March (4) April (8) May (11) June (8) July August September October November December

Say's Phoebe

May 08, 2023

  The Say's Phoebe is a western bird rarely seen in Nova Scotia. This one showed up yesterday at Sandy Cove Beach, Halifax. Sandy Cove is one of the premier rare bird sighting locations currently known in Nova Scotia although many great locations remain undiscovered. I've enjoyed visiting this place for 23 years.

The trick here is to find a soft comfortable rock preferably at high tide which bunches the birds up and just sit and wait for the birds to march by. The light was poor this morning so hand holding a 1200mm lens was a challenge since I can't crank up the speed too much. I usually consider ISO 6400 as a maximum for bird photography.

Say's Phoebe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Say's phoebe
Sayornis saya 6.jpg
Scientific classificationedit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Sayornis
S. saya
Binomial name
Sayornis saya
(Bonaparte, 1825)

Say's phoebe (Sayornis saya) is a passerine bird in the tyrant flycatcher family.[2] A common bird across western North America, it prefers dry, desolate areas.[2] This bird was named for Thomas Say, the American naturalist.[3]


Say's phoebe was formally described in 1825 by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte from a specimen collected near Pueblo, Colorado. He coined the binomial name Muscicapa saya where the specific epithet was chosen to honour the naturalist Thomas Say.[3][4] The species is now placed in the genus Sayornis that was introduced by Bonaparte in 1854.[5][6]

Two subspecies are recognised:[6]


Say's Phoebe
Say's phoebe in Cochise County, Arizona

The adult Say's phoebe is a barrel-chested bird with a squared-off head. It is gray-brown above with a black tail and buffy cinnamon below, becoming more orange around the vent. The tail is long and the primaries end just past the rump on resting birds. The wings seem pale in flight and resemble a female mountain bluebird. The juvenile is similar to adult, but has buffy orange to whitish wingbars and a yellow gape. Adult birds are 7.5 in (19 cm) long. They have a 13 in (33 cm) wingspan and they weigh 0.75 oz (21 g)

Distribution and habitat[edit]

They are found year-round from western Colorado, southwest to southern California, east to the western panhandle of Texas and south through western Mexico. They breed from Alaska south through western and south central Canada, south through North Dakota, the midwest and to New Mexico and westward.[7] They winter in the desert southwest to southern Texas and south through Mexico to northern Central America. During migration these birds can be found thousands of miles out of range. There are regular fall reports in New England, U.S and Nova Scotia, Canada.

These birds prefer dry, desolate, arid landscapes. They can be found on farmland, savanna and open woodlands, usually near water. They tend to be early migrants to the western U.S


Sayornis saya map.svg