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 (
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. :-)

Great summary and sleuthing on this bird, Jimmy!

Matt Hunter

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