Say's Phoebe

Sayornis saya




Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, sometimes with red or brown spots

Number of Eggs:

3 - 7

Incubation Days:

12 - 14

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Attached to vertical walls.

Nest Material:

Grasses and mud., Lined with grass, weeds, moss, spider webs, and wool.





Say's Phoebe: Medium-sized, active flycatcher with gray-brown upperparts and head, paler gray throat and upper breast, and pale rufous belly and undertail coverts. Wings and tail are dark gray. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is browner with pale wing-bars.

Range and Habitat

Say's Phoebe: Breeds from central Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories south through the western U.S. from California to Texas. Spends winters in coastal Oregon and California east to Texas, and much of Mexico. Resident in parts of the southwest and northern Mexico. Frequents open areas such as prairies, tundra, farmlands, and playing fields.

Breeding and Nesting

Say's Phoebe: Three to seven white eggs, sometimes brown or red spotted, are laid in a nest made of grass and wool and built in a sheltered, elevated, dry site on a ledge, rock wall, or building. Incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days and is carried out by the female. Usually raises one to two, but sometimes three broods per year.

Foraging and Feeding

Say's Phoebe: Feeds on insects but also eats berries. Flies from perch to catch insects; also hovers above grass when hunting.


Say's Phoebe: Song is a series of relatively low, whistled phrases "pidiweew" and "pidireep", usually alternated in steady tempo. Call is a low, plaintive whistled "pdeer" or "tueeee."

Similar Species

Say's Phoebe: Eastern Phoebe is smaller, has a darker head, and whiter underparts.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X