Date: 6/3/18 8:16 am From: Matthew G Hunter <matthewghunter...> Subject: [obol] Re: Eastern Or Say's Phoebe
Wow, excellent summary James!
As part of the learning/pondering process, I want to share a photo that Jimmy sent to me via text ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewghunter/42527868321/in/dateposted-public/). It is a cell phone shot of his camera screen. Looking at this on my phone I had no doubt whatsoever that this was an Eastern Phoebe: dark cap, grayish breast, yellowish underneath, tail reportedly bobbing. Jimmy said it looked paler on the head in life, but I brushed that off. With the yellowish underneath and the clearly worn greater and median coverts, I figured it was a worn year-old bird. I had no questions whatsoever.
Fast-forward to Jimmy's actual photos, in his eBird checklist. Since I was already convinced it was an Eastern Phoebe, and it didn't immediately look like anything else to me, I still didn't have a problem with the photos, until Jimmy mentioned Say's Phoebe. What? Where's the cinnamon belly? The darker breast? ...Long story short, I do think it is possible that this bird is a heavily washed out Say's Phoebe in a slightly over exposed image. And I kind of feel that the flight style feels more Say's, and the tail longer like Say's, ...and in the video I do not see a classic phoebe tail-bob. There is some movement of the tail, but for balance, not a classic e phoebe-bob/flip/stir. But ... then ... it generally looks more petite like Eastern. Haha! Honestly, in a million years I never thought I would have to distinguish these two species! But images are different than the field.
I too am interested to hear what others think and why. :-)