Say's Phoebes in the middle of the Rio Grande

(Revised Jan. 29, 2021)


I have multiple identification photos for Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya) on a different page. Here I'll document a couple of individuals I saw perching just above the Rio Grande.


The first pair of photos is from late September 2020. I first noticed the phoebe on top of a Russian Olive on the opposite bank of a very low Rio Grande, here in Albuquerque. The phoebe then flew down to perch on a piece of driftwood stranded on a mud bank. In one photo the phoebe appears to be staring at something in the water, but all I saw it go after was flying bugs.


In January 2021 I watched a different Say's Phoebe perched just above the Rio Grande, this time closer to shore (in Rio Rancho). This time the phoebe flew down to bugs drifting past on the river's surface. Each time it caught the bug with its beak and reversed direction, regaining altitude without any part of its body (other than the beak) touching the water. One of the photos is a bit blurry, but I'll include it because it shows the phoebe with its distinctive black tail feathers spread out, preparatory to launching itself.