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Say's Phoebe


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Like other phoebes, the rusty-bellied Say's Phoebe is common around people, often nesting on buildings. A bird of open country, it is found from Alaska through Mexico.


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird; medium-sized flycatcher.
  • Upperparts pale brownish gray.
  • Belly and undertail cinnamon.
  • Wags tail.

Immature Description

Immature like adult, but browner and may show buff wingbar.

Range Map Help

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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Say's Phoebe

    • Slender-bodied, medium-sized flycatcher
    • Dark brownish gray overall with buffy/cinnamon wash on belly
    • Long, flattened black bill
    • Long black tail
    • © Lois Manowitz, Lakeside Park, Tucson, Arizona, January 2011
  • Adult

    Say's Phoebe

    • Larger and more slender-bodied than other phoebes
    • Brownish gray above with paler throat and breast
    • Rufous orange wash on lower belly
    • © Lois Manowitz, Patagonia Lake State Park, Arizona, March 2010
  • Adult

    Say's Phoebe

    • More elongated than other phoebes with longer wings and tail
    • Dull brownish gray above
    • Buffy orange wash on belly and flanks
    • © Mike Wisnicki, Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada, September 2011
  • Adult

    Say's Phoebe

    • Slender-bodied with long wings and tail
    • Dark brownish gray above
    • Black tail
    • Buffy orange flanks and belly
    • © Photosuze, Playa del Ray, California, October 2010

Similar Species

  • Female

    Vermilion Flycatcher

    • Similar to Say's Phoebe but with paler, whitish throat and breast
    • Wash on belly more rosy pink, rather than orange
    • Faint streaking on breast
    • © Joan Gellatly, Tucson, Arizona, June 2009
  • Adult

    Eastern Phoebe

    • Shorter-winged and stockier than Say's Phoebe
    • Pale whitish or slightly yellow belly with no pink or orange
    • Dark cap contrasts with paler gray nape and back
    • © Stephen Ramirez, Clear Creek, Texas, January 2010
  • Adult

    Black Phoebe

    • Much darker than Say's Phoebe
    • Snowy white belly contrasts with black head and breast
    • © Jon Rowley, Central Valley, California, February 2008
  • Adult

    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

    • Much paler than Say's Phoebe, almost white on head
    • Much longer, deeply-forked tail
    • Dark wings contrast with pale gray body
    • © A wing and a prayer, Cave Springs, Arkansas, May 2010

Similar Species

    Backyard Tips

    Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.



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