Say’s is Back

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

EXTRA: Still could use a couple more volunteers to help water baby native plants and prepare the ground for the new Native Pollinator Habitat, coming very soon. Show up tomorrow (Saturday 9/29/22) at 9 am at the Spinnaker Way parking circle. Details? Call Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar (949) 307-5918  

As with the Black Phoebe — which still evades my lens though not my eye — its cousin the Say’s Phoebe is back from its summer breeding habitat. Where that may have been is unknown. Say’s make their nests and raise their chicks over a huge range from northern Alaska down to Mexico and many points between. This bird may have migrated more than a thousand miles from the Arctic or less than twenty miles from the hills of Contra Costa County.

Wherever it comes from, it’s a beautiful and talented bird. I saw this individual on the lower east side of the park, around the picnic areas. In past years I usually see one or two further north, in the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary and in the Nature Area on the north side. It’s a flycatcher, a carnivore that catches and eats all kinds of bugs, and rarely touches vegetables. It can glean bugs off the ground or off plant surfaces, or it can catch them on the fly. I’ve seen it hover close to the ground as if it were an oversized hummingbird. Once I filmed it diving for protein just under the surface of the Bay’s water — see “Say’s Phoebe on Water,” Nov 7 2018. Its sunny cinnamon breast identifies it immediately. This individual also displays a tail flicking motion that may be a holdover from its recently ended breeding period. A bird that I photographed in January showed no sign of this motion; see “Say’s Phoebe At Last,”  .

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

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