Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Say's Phoebe - Sayornis saya
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General Comments The Say's Phoebe breeds over much of the Western United States and Western Canada, but it withdraws from most of the northern portions of the range during the winter. Its normal winter range is in the southwestern United States and Mexico, though strays to the Southeastern states are not overly unusual. It has been found in North Carolina on more than ten occasions, all in the eastern half of the state during fall or winter. Thankfully, records have been increasing in the past decade, though this may be due to better observer coverage.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Very rare fall migrant/stray, occasionally lingering into the winter; 11 records. One was seen near the Pony Pens at Ocracoke Island (Hyde) on 11 Oct 1991 [Chat 57:56 link]; one was present in central Carteret from 1-6 Dec 2005 [Chat 70:10 link]; one stayed at the O'Berry Center near Goldsboro (Wayne) from 9 Jan - 18 Mar 2007 [Chat 72:8-9 link], for a remarkable midwinter record; one was noted on the beach at Bald Head Island (Brunswick) on 3 Sep 2010 [Chat 75:2 link], [Chat 75:47 link]; one was seen at Alligator River NWR, 24 Nov 2012 [Chat 77:29 link]; and one was seen in Cherry (Washington) from 27 Dec 2012 - 7 Feb 2013 [Chat 77:58 link]. Two were found at well separated locations in Washington on 27 Dec 2013 [Chat 78:74 link] -- one just west of Lake Phelps, seen only on that date; and one near Beasley Road and US 64, which remained to 19 Jan 2014 and was seen and photographed by numerous people. One was seen at North River Farms (Carteret) on 28 Sep 2014. Fall 2017 saw two additional reports: one at the Voice of America site in northwestern Beaufort, 16 Oct - 5 Dec, and one in southeastern Washington, 24-27 Nov.
Piedmont Accidental; two records. One was seen near Raleigh on 23 Oct 1965 [Chat 30:28 link], [Chat 54:56 link]. Another was seen near Lillington (Harnett) from 7-12 Dec 1985 [Chat 51:75-76 link], [Chat 54:56 link].
Mountains No records.
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Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-21], LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2015-06-14]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NA Maps
(source NatureServe)

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, KS, MT, ND, NE, NM, NN, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002