ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"Listen Inside and Outside"
If you like challenges, here's one for you. Get up early, about 7:00 am and stay inside your house. The house has to be quiet. No television or music going. Then listen. Listen some more. There's a very good chance you will hear one of my favorite birds singing from inside your house. Pit-see, Pit-see, Pit-se, Pee-eeee. Sometimes the song will only be Pee-eeee, Pee-eeee, Pee-eeee. Do you hear it? It's a Say's Phoebe. Outside your house you will find this flycatcher perched on a tree branch, shrub or housetop looking for insects in flight. When they spot one, they flight out, catch, and have dinner on the wing. That's why they call them "flycatchers."
When you are outdoors, indoors, going for a walk around the neighborhood, or going for a ride through open spaces, watch and listen for the Say's Phoebe. A Say's Phoebe is brownish-gray with an orange-brown belly and light gray on the throat and breast. The head is a bit square and slightly pointed.
Utah is a breeding area for the Phoebe so they are sure to be here, come Spring. Their habitat is the dry open or partly open areas of western North America from Alaska to Mexico. Some Phoebes spend winter in Southern Utah. This bird doesn't mind being around people so it is probably in your back yard or nesting above one of your outdoor lights. The nest is an open cup of grass, plant fibers, spider webs, weed stems, and lined with hair fibers, paper or feathers. It can be anywhere--ledge, cave, building or bridge.
When driving through beautiful fields of alfalfa, I often see a Say's Phoebe fly alongside the roadway, moving from post to post. Sights like this encourage me to pull over, and stop, look, and listen. This is a great time to enjoy bird life, so turn down the music and listen inside and outside.
Brenda Rusnell is the artist this week. Thanks to Brenda for this beautiful rendition. If you have questions about the Say's Phoebe or Red Cliffs Audubon, monthly meetings and field trips, call 435-673-0996. The public is always welcome. Our field trip and meeting schedule can be found here.