Say’s Phoebe

photo by Phil Swanson

Sayornis saya
L 7 1/2″ (19 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Song is fast “pit-tse-ar.” Call is thin whistled “pee-ee,” slightly downslurred.

Description: Sexes similar. Grayish-brown above, being darkest on the head and wings; pale grayish-brown throat and breast; black tail; lacks wing bars; and light rust-colored belly and undertail coverts. Juveniles are browner above, with two cinnamon wing bars. Found in open, dry habitats, including rocky canyons, badlands, and ranchlands.

Behavior: Frequently seen pumping and spreading its tail.

Bird Map
Habitat: Often nests under bridges or on horizontal ledges of buildings.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident in western Nebraska.

Field Notes: Vagrants are seen east to the Missouri River.

Fun Facts: The Say’s Phoebe breeds farther north than any other flycatcher; its only limitation is suitable nesting areas.

Say's Phoebe - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Say's Phoebe - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)