~Arizona Birding Series – Say’s Phoebe

December 2020 – Patagonia Lake State Park


Say’s phoebe is a passerine bird in the tyrant flycatcher family. A common bird in the western United States, it prefers dry, desolate areas.



Like other phoebes, Say’s Phoebes bob their tails. They perch on low shrubs or rocks and dart out to grab prey from the air, the foliage, or the ground. They can often be seen hovering low over fields looking for prey.


Say’s Phoebes’ primary diet is insects. They eat a number of terrestrial insects as well as the typical flying variety.


Fun Facts

  • The Say’s Phoebe breeds farther north than any other flycatcher, seemingly limited only by the lack of nest sites.

  • The numbers of this bird are declining, probably due to loss of habitat in its winter range. 😦

  • This bird was named for Thomas Say, the American naturalist.

  • A group of flycatchers has many collective nouns, including an “outfield”, “swatting”, “zapper”, and “zipper” of flycatchers.

I have a great time photographing the Say’s. It is amazing how close they let me get to them. I believe they are so focused on their prey they just ignore everything else.

Happy Birding

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