If you look at some range maps for the Say’s Phoebe – a small flycatcher with a rusty belly – you’d think they don’t breed in Alaska. You’d be wrong.
This handsome fellow was photographed along the Steese Highway, in the heart of the White Mountains. The light was quite low – there was a pretty good thunderstorm going on – so there’s a bit of noise. WC’s primary camera, a Canon 1D-X, perform pretty well at remarkable ISO settings; this shot was at ISO25600 (no, that’s not a typo). There’s some noise, but it’s not too bad.
If there were any questions about Say’s Phoebes breeding there, let me offer this:
Note the hatchling begging for food in the center of the nest.Pretty nice nest, too, lined with Willow Ptarmigan feathers.
And this little flycatcher is clever for a bird with a brain the size of a peanut. He sheltered under the cover of the bridge, out of the rain, and snagged bugs as they came in to escape the thunderstorm. He stayed reasonably dry as supper for the adult and the kid flew to him.
Some of those same bird guides also tell you that Say’s Pheobes avoid watercourses. This guy nested over a creek. Guess he didn’t read that part of the guide.
It’s always a treat to find an uncommon bird, or a species where it isn’t supposed to be. It helps keep birding an art instead of paint by numbers.