February 2024

Vol. 52, No. 1

John’s World of Birds: Say, What's in a Name?

John Kricher

Say’s Phoebe. Photograph by John Kricher.
Say’s Phoebe. Photograph by John Kricher.

Imaginary conversation, say, for instance, somewhere in eastern Massachusetts in October:

Birder 1: “Say, what’s that bird perched on the wire fence, the bird flipping its tail up and down? Some kind of flycatcher?”

Birder 2: “Must be a phoebe, right size and jizz. But wait a minute, look at it…. Rusty undersides, black tail. Say, it must be a Say’s Phoebe. Wow.”

Birder 1: “I’ll say it is, Say’s Phoebe. All field marks. We found ourselves a good bird.”

Birder 2: “I’ll get a photo for eBird. What do you say we go get a beer to celebrate?”

Birder 1, later, sipping beer: “What a find. We did well. Who was Say anyway?”

Birder 2: also sipping beer: “Say what? Who was Say? How would I know? Whoever he was, we saw his phoebe.”

Smiles and good-natured laugher. Beer glasses clink, celebration complete. Say no more.

To view the rest of the article you'll need to subscribe. Bird Observer publishes original articles on birding locations, on avian populations and natural history, on regional rarities, field notes, field records, photographs, and art work.
Bird Observer logo

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
© Copyright 2024 by Bird Observer, Inc.