New Friend

For the last several years, I have been hearing a new bird call, a kind of “TEerup” call, (It’s always so hard to put a bird call into language, isn’t it?) but I could never figure out what was making it.

Enter Cornell University’s Merlin bird identification app. This spring, when I heard the call, I whipped out my cell phone, brought up the app, and identified the bird from the sound of it’s call. From it’s call!

It was a Say’s Phoebe.

Cornell’s Birds of the World website says it is a bird of “Open country, prairie ranches, sagebrush plains, badlands, dry barren foothills, canyons, and borders of deserts; generally avoids watercourses, rich agricultural land, and heavily forested land.” Sounds like my kind of bird.

It is in the flycatcher group. And finally having recognized it for what it was, I would believe it — although these birds are about the size and shape of a robin, they flit and change direction far faster than any other bird of its size that I’ve seen.

Do you see those bristles where its beak meets its head? Those are typical of flycatchers. They are used by the bird when flying to sense flying insects, like wild bees and wasps. They then move their heads to catch the bugs.

All this while they are chasing the flying bug.

I couldn’t track a flying insect with my hand, let alone my head.

Now that I know what to look for, I am seeing them everywhere. In fact, there were a pair hanging around the yard last week. I hope they decide to nest nearby. Then I can enjoy their TErup call all summer.

6 responses to “New Friend”

  1. Whoa…that’s incredible. In my naīveté, I’d have thought it was ‘just a robin.’ Clearly I have a LOT to learn about birds along the Front Range!


    1. Don’t feel too bad! I hadn’t really noticed them until that Merlin app ID’d the call for me. Then I found whatever was making that sound.
      Thanks for a great walk today!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure. And those rolls…to die for. Thank you and the pooches for a lovely walk.


  2. The one time I went on a guided hike at Chatfield Audubon Center, there was a Say’s Phoebe nesting under the eaves of a building. I’ve seen them since but am not confident about ID or call. You just helped put this one back on my radar. (BTW, I was practicing with the Merlin app yesterday and was unable to get the display to say “Listening to bird song” as I supposedly recorded a song. Any thoughts on that?”)


    1. You pressed the Sound ID/microphone button? And you might need to be logged in. Otherwise, I would have to assume that there was an error in downloading the app. That’s the best I got…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You were correct. Turns out I thought I’d added the bird pack for Rocky Mtns but because my android phone is old, there’s not enough storage space so it didn’t fully download. I need to delete some stuff and see if I can get it to work. Thank you!


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