Nest Building Say’s Phoebe

Say's Phoebe picking up nesting materialSay’s Phoebe picking up nesting material – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There was a chance for some sun poking through the clouds yesterday and I simply had to get out into the field, I was having withdrawals because of the recent cloudy and rainy weather keeping me at home. So I went out to nearby Antelope Island State Park hoping for a few birds and some light, I found a few birds and found less light than I had hoped for. But I am glad that I went even out for a few hours.

I photographed a nest building Say’s Phoebe trying to separate a clump of grass and mud, or perhaps bison manure, by holding it in its bill and beating it on the ground. The light wasn’t great but the nesting behavior of the phoebe was interesting. I wish the light had been brighter to help make the cinnamon color of the phoebe’s belly and underparts pop more.

Say's Phoebe with nesting materialSay’s Phoebe with nesting material – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Say’s Phoebes breed further north than any other flycatcher species in North America and it is possible that they are expanding their breeding range further north. Here in Utah they can have more than one brood, possibly as many as three broods a season. They lay 3 to 7 eggs which hatch in 12 to 14 days, the female incubates.

Say’s Phoebes are birds of open country that includes sagebrush steppe, dry foothills, canyons, deserts and can often be found near ranches. They do take advantage of man made structures to build their nests under the eaves and in abandoned buildings.

I don’t have many opportunities to photograph Say’s Phoebes and I am always excited when I see one through my viewfinder.

Life is good.



  1. Liv May 23, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Awww… It’s so cute and sleek-looking! What a cute, tiny little bird 🙂

  2. Elephant's Child May 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    And she can’t wait until the weather is more to her liking…
    Stunning shot.

  3. Molly Iris May 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Beautiful. I like the rocks and sand at the bottom and the “capture” of the little animal’s behavior. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Patty Chadwick May 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Looks like she was getting rid of the extra soil, just wanted the fibrous parts of the grass…they know what they want and don’t want and can be very picky costomers, can’t they….

  5. Janes Heartsong May 23, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Don’t have them here, but with the weather getting warmer, you never know.There is something about one preparing a nest that is so endearing. Thanks for this share.

  6. Bob McPherson May 23, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Beautiful images, Mia.

  7. Fern Culhane May 23, 2016 at 7:12 am

    love the subtle colors of the Say’s Phoebe next to the colors of the sand and plant matter…!

  8. Steven Kessel May 23, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Nice shots, Mia. Says’ Phoebes are year rounders down here in southern Arizona, but I’ve never seen them in the desert around Tucson. Like other flycatchers they seem to need a bit of water. We see them often in the irrigated agricultural flatlands between Tucson and Phoenix.

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