Correction to a bird correction

I got this by e-mail from SC of CA, wife of a past president of Pasadena Audobon Society:

Hi Father Z:

I’m a daily reader of your blog.  I’ve really been enjoying your bird feeder visitors.  However, I tend to disagree that Mr. Say’s Phoebee is a Phoebee.  You were right before.  After consulting hubby, who is an avid birder, he confirmed that your cute little guest is an Eastern Peewee.  Say’s Phoebee’s have a more upright posture and a buff underbelly–no yellow.

Good birding!

Allow me to give you the bird:



The problem remains that this bird with absolutely no hesitation bobs his tail.  That suggests Phoebe, not Pewee.

The controversy rages!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Hard to say, Father. In the right light, you can’t see much yellow in the belly. And laying a trap for a closer look would be… well, unseemly.

  2. Andreas says:

    Once again we consult the literature at

    After careful comparison of images I conclude that this is a new species hitherto unseen by the scientific community. It should be named “passerculus Zulsdorfiensis”.

  3. Irish says:

    Could it be Phoewee?

  4. Lacrimarum Valle says:

    To my untutored eye, Bird No 2 looks different to Birds Nos 1 and 3.

    Could you perhaps have both in your garden?

    Or alternatively, have you recently painted a fence yellow?

  5. Corboy says:

    I like birds..lightly roasted with a nice pinot.

  6. Corboy: I agree, though I am not sure about the Pinot. Also, I tend to like the larger birds, which give you more meat in proportion to the effort of preparation.

  7. Brian Day says:

    Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio (Gris)?

  8. Bob says:

    Here is another clue.
    Eastern Pewees have a distinctive yellow mandible, while Eastern Phoebes have an all-dark bill.
    Add that to the other two distinctive identifying characteristics already mentioned, i.e., tail-bobbing
    (Phoebe) and garden, not forest, location (Phoebe) and I believe this is a Phoebe.
    Listen for the song. A pewee says “pee-ah-wee”, slightly slurred. A phoebe says “fee-be”
    Good luck with the id.

  9. Marty Sieve says:

    Have you tried to identify by sound? The hoarse “phoebe” call would be a dead giveaway.

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