Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-16

Common name:

Eastern Phoebe

Scientific name: Sayornis phoebe
Date: 18 Oct 2010
Time: 6:00 pm
Length of time observed: Several views, 5 minutes total view time over about 30 minutes there looking.
Number: 1
Location: Provo Airport Dike
County: Utah
Elevation: 4500
Distance to bird: 40 feet - 100 feet
Optical equipment: 8x10 Binoculars
Light Conditions: Sunset when I was there.  Light was fading. Sun was setting at our backs as we looked at the bird.  Somewhat low light conditions.  Jeff Bilsky saw it earlier in probably better light.
Description:        Size of bird: Phoebe - Smaller than a Robin, about size of Towhee?
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Phoebe - Large rounded head, longish tail.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Dark Grayish on topside, whitish underside.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Flycatcher - Small, pointy, wide.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Bird was a Phoebe with dark grayish Head, Back, Wings and Tail.  Pale white underside. White underside included throat area, throat was white from bill to chest edged on sides by dark auriculars area. Gray color from upperside bled onto the chest from the shoulder area out creating a 'Vest' on the bird.  Belly was white.  I thought I saw some light yellowish on the lower belly when I had a darker color in the image background at one point but most of the time it looked plain white. These are all the marks I remember noting on this sighting.  I forgot to take more detailed note at the time of the sighting.  See Robert's photo.
Song or call & method of delivery: It was making a short, one note call every few seconds which helped us relocate it each time it moved.
Behavior: Perching on branches on the outside edge of brush and small trees.  Changing perches often.  Dipping Tail.
Habitat: Line of brush and trees along small canal with open Airport fields on one side of the line of trees and road and lake on the other side of the trees. 
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Say's Phoebe eliminated because This bird had a darker head that contrasted with a white throat and this bird had a white belly.  A Say's would have a grayish throat and orangish belly and undertail coverts. 
A Black Phoebe would have a Black throat, chest and sides.
An Olive-sided Flycatcher would not have such a round head and body shape would have looked different (slimmer with shorter tail). 
Eastern Kingbirds usually show a more peaked head shape, they don't have had as much gray on the sides of the chest and the tip of the tail would be white.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen a few Eastern Phoebes in the Eastern United States.  I have seen many, many Say's Phoebes,  Eastern Kingbirds and Olive-sided Flycatchers
References consulted:  
Description from: From memory
Observer: Eric Huish
Observer's address: 850 E 100 N, Pleasant Grove Ut, 84062
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: On the 18th I was with Jeff Bilsky who found the bird and called me (Birdnet Archives - and Robert Williams who photographed the bird (Birdtalk Archives -  Others saw the bird over the next few days.  Jeff Cooper and another birder on the 19th (Birdtalk Archives - ), Ned Bixler saw it on the 20th (Birdtalk Archives -, Pat Jividen also saw it (Birdtalk Archives - There were also other Birders who saw the bird.
Date prepared: 9 March 2011
Additional material: Photo taken by Robert Williams
Additional_Comments: I should have taken notes on the day of the sighting.  I know better. Oops.